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‘FIRST OLD FIRM TEST FOR YEARS,’ MURTY

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GRAEME MURTY insists tomorrow’s High Noon showdown against Celtic at Ibrox will be the first test between the teams in years.

Rangers go in to the encounter with the opportunity of clawing back the gap to three points although the Hoops will still have a game in hand.

Boosted by six straight victories, the caretaker boss believes his team’s progress can be gauged by the fact no-one has tipped the champions to win by a large scoreline.

Murty said: “It’s not about whether it’ll be six, seven or eight goals like before the first game I did at Parkhead.

“It was also about the fact we didn’t have a manager.

“People are now talking about ‘the game’, which I think is indicative of the journey we’ve been on and the distance we’ve come as a squad and a football club.

“I think we’ve moved in the right direction. The fact this game is generating so much interest shows that in a good light.”

On-loan central defender Russell Martin is almost certainly out with a back injury.

But Murty said: “He’s doing everything he possibly can and we’re doing everything we possibly can to get him ready. We’ll give him as long as he needs.

“With the magnitude of the game and the scale of people’s perception of it, every single player is desperate to be involved.”

Confident of calling on fit-again Jamie Murphy and Declan John after the pair came through a closed-doors game in midweek, the interim gaffer believes his side’s revival is putting the fixture back on the map.

He added: “It doesn’t need anything from me. This game stands alone in terms of what it means.

“It stands alone in world football and the interest in it, around the globe, will never wane.

“What we have to do is make sure these games are meaningful between now and the end of the season.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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