Michael Beale’s confident Rangers can catch Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic

Venue: Pittodrie Date: Tuesday, January 20 Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scoltand Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Michael Beale has a “huge amount” of confidence Rangers can catch Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic once his squad recovers from injury.

With several first-team players already out, Steven Davis will miss Tuesday’s match at Aberdeen and undergo a scan.

Antonio Colak – who missed Thursday’s win over Hibernian – also misses out as Rangers trail Celtic by nine points.

“In my three-and-a-half years here previously we never had a situation like this,” Beale said.

“My focus at the minute is two things really – it is to give the team real clarity on how we want to play, to make us hard to beat but also to be good with the ball.

“But it is also to recover the injuries we have. Last week we probably had an unavailable XI as strong as the XI we had on the pitch.

“Now, if they are all available it makes a strong Ranger here in training and then into the games, but at the moment we are more vulnerable than we have been in many a year.”

One player who is back in contention is vice-captain and defender Connor Goldson. Beale says the Englishman will bring crucial leadership to the team along with his defensive qualities.

“He’s a strong voice,” said the new Rangers boss. “We all saw that in the season when there were no fans in the stadium, and all you could hear was Connor moaning. But that’s actually a good thing because he gives some personality to the team. Football teams now in general are quiet.

“When you have a player so consistent in selection, when you lose him for four or five games it does rock the squad, especially when the other center-half has changed so much, the left-sided center-half has not been as consistent at the same time.

So we are delighted to have him back in the squad. Whether he and Ben [Davies] are able to go 40-odd or 90 minutes we will have to see.”

Beale ‘not disrespectful’ to ‘very impressive’ Celtic

Beale was also keen to clarify comments he made recently when he referred to Celtic as “the other team” after he felt some people had taken the phrase the wrong way.

“The other day I used the term, ‘other team’,” he said. “I didn’t get to where I am by being disrespectful to anybody.

“I was asked the question about being nine points behind, and my answer was ‘well, we have to win and the other team has to lose some’. That wasn’t in any way disrespectful. I want to cut that short where that is.

“Between now and the end of the season we have to win every game including three Old Firms, and pick up the goal difference to get in front. So we know it’s a tough ask.

“That was a very innocent comment that has been taken too far. I’m a coach that respects coming back into this league because I enjoy it, I think there are very good managers in this league.”

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