'Trialist' issue means Gers still not at full strength

Posted by John Gow

AP Photo/Danny Lawson/Press AssociationFrom left, Jon Daly, Steven Smith, Cammy Bell, Richard Foster, Nicky Law and Nicky Clark, shown modeling Rangers' new kits last month, will not be on the pitch at once in Sunday's Ramsdens Cup match.

At last, the phony war ends as the season starts for real this weekend. Rangers play Albion Rovers on Sunday at Livingston’s Almondvale stadium for the first round of the Ramsdens Cup. The Coatbridge side finished bottom of the Second Division last season, and should not hold many problems for the Govan side.

Of course, with the transfer registration ban, the Light Blues can only field two 'trialists' from Cammy Bell, Nicky Law, Nicky Clark and Jon Daly as Arnold Peralta, Bilel Mohsni, Steven Smith, and Richard Foster cannot start until Sept. 1. (Reasons here).

As manager Ally McCoist says, it "isn’t ideal" preparation, but it is infinitely better compared to last year, and one Rangers should cope with. None of the teams they play until September onward should be able to live with the Gers squad, new signings or not.

-Rovers will be without Russell

Sunday, since you would expect the Gers to do most of the attacking, it’s unlikely Bell will start. In any case, Scott Gallacher deserves his big chance. He is reaching the stage where he needs to be trusted or he should leave. I’m sure he won’t let anyone down.

Of the other three, Daly and Law have had the best of the preseason, and seem more crucial to the team structure, so it's only natural that they will start while Clark will lose out. Andy Little was top scorer in the Third Division, so it shouldn’t be too much of a loss. McCoist might have picked him anyway as he is a proven finisher, and it will be interesting to see how he works alongside the big Dubliner.

With the lack of new signings able to play, the defence is still comparatively weak. Against Albion Rovers, McCoist will probably choose Sebastien Faure at right-back, Lee McCulloch and Emilson Cribari as centre-backs, and Lee Wallace on the left.

Except for Wallace, the back-line is not exactly bursting with pace, and it’s just as well Rangers probably won’t meet a top side in August. Rovers should not be expected to pose much of a challenge, and if they make any chances it would be a poor sign.

On the positive side, Gers still look good middle to front. As discussed Daly and Little should make a good partnership while a midfield of Lewis Macleod, Law, Ian Black and (probably) Fraser Aird should, on paper, be able to play some nice football.

Prediction: With the game being played at Almondvale instead of Cliftonhill, it’s not even an 'away' match so there can be no excuses. Rangers should win by three or four goals and it would be disappointing if they didn’t.

Mohsni signs

Rangers supporters seem delighted that the French-Tunisian Bilel Mohsni signed a two-year deal with the club on Friday. The central defender has impressed everyone in preseason and McCoist will be hopeful he can help solve the weakness at the back. He seems a bit of a character and has been spoken about as a Madjid Bougherra clone in terms of playing style and outgoing personality.

Speaking to RangersTV, he said he was "very happy to sign for Rangers. I have agreed for two years and I think it is a chance to prove that I can play in the top league and be a part of the squad. It would be amazing to be one of the players who help Rangers back to where Rangers belongs.”

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