Rangers have admitted to fatigue ahead of their crucial Champions League match in Valencia on Tuesday, the defender Madjid Bougherra conceding after the home draw against Inverness yesterday that he and his team-mates are already feeling the strain.
Rangers are operating with a thin squad and lost their flawless SPL record at the weekend. "We wanted to win but maybe some people were tired," said Bougherra of the Inverness match. "It is better that this happens early [in the season] so that we are aware of it. But it is not the end of the world because we are still at the top of the table."
Had the Inverness substitute Eric Odhiambo not cancelled out Maurice Edu's early opener, Rangers would have equalled their own record of 10 successive wins at the start of a league campaign.
Bougherra's defensive attributes will be invaluable to Rangers at the Mestalla, the Scottish champions sitting one place above Valencia in a tight-looking Group C with Manchester United leading the way.
"If we can win, or get a draw, it can help us to qualify for the second phase," said Bougherra. "We are going there to try to win but the pressure is on Valencia."
Meanwhile, fresh turmoil for the Scottish FA has arrived courtesy of the former assistant referee Steven Craven, who resigned in the aftermath of the overturned penalty controversy in last month's game between Dundee United and Celtic. Craven has now said the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, was told an incorrect version of events immediately after the game. The referee Dougie McDonald, who had reversed his penalty award, claimed it was down to the interventions of Craven, the assistant referee.
"Neil Lennon came in after the game and asked Dougie why he hadn't given the penalty kick," Craven explained. "We told Neil the version that was a lie. It was wrong to lie. And I'm not proud that I went along with Dougie's suggestion."
Stewart Regan, the SFA's chief executive, admitted on Saturday: "What he [McDonald] said wasn't the correct information, you can call it a lie if you wish." McDonald has yet to comment.