Alex McLeish predicts Premiership title race will go down to the wire, while Alfredo Morelos sent home from international duty with thigh injury
McLeish reckons defeat for his old team at Ibrox next Sunday will NOT make or break their title defence
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Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, who sit three points behind their rivals with seven games remaining, host the Hoops at Ibrox in the third Glasgow derby clash of the season,
McLeish, who took charge of the Ibrox club between 2001-2006, believes a defeat for his old club will not make or break their title defence, just as his class of 2005 proved.
Rangers lost the final derby clash of the season 2-1 against Martin O’Neill’s side, before winning their last four games to clinch the title as Celtic stumbled.
McLeish reckons the title race will go right down to the wire once more, with two more Premiership clashes and a Scottish Cup semi-final on April 17 against Ange Postecoglou’s men in the coming weeks.
He said: “Next Sunday is a massive game for both clubs. It would be difficult for Rangers to win the league if they lost the game.
“These games are so significant in the title race. We lost to Celtic in 2005 but we were able to win the league so it can be done.
“Celtic were in the driving seat that year and it went to the last day for Helicopter Sunday. It was a dramatic day.
“Gio is doing a fantastic job here and this season reminds me of the battles we had with Celtic in 2003 and 2005. They went right to the very last day and it’s the same this year.
“That’s great to credit to both teams, they are neck and neck.”
McLeish believes Van Bronckhorst is capable of of clinching a treble in his first season at the helm, with the Gers also facing Portuguese outfit Braga in the Europa League quarter finals
He added: “Gio knows, having played here, the demands of Rangers, the fans and everyone else. He has good experience and he has to get everything he can out of every single player until the end of the season.
“Rangers have quite a tough task to win all three trophies. They have come so far in Europe, but it is very important to win the league because of entry to the Champions League next season.
“You tend not to prioritise anything. I never felt I did. There are demands here, and you have to go and win.
“You have to win this game and then the next one, no matter what the competition is.”
Meanwhile, Alfredo Morelos has returned to Rangers after being sent home from international duty with Colombia due to a thigh injury.
The 25-year-old, who has scored 12 goals in 16 league appearances this term, sat out of his country’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia on Thursday and has flown back to Glasgow to focus on his rehab.
Morelos, who has earned 15 international caps, now faces a race to be fit for Sunday’s lunchtime visit of Celtic.
A statement released by the Colombia Football Association read: “The coaching and medical staff of the Colombia Men’s Senior National Team reports that, after performing medical examinations on player Alfredo Morelos, a muscle injury to his left thigh was confirmed, which prevented him from participating in the previous commitment against Bolivia and in the same way does not allow him to participate in the next match of the Qualifiers for the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup.
“For this reason, the striker is called off to begin his recovery work. We wish the player a good return to his club.”