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Rangers boss Philippe Clement ready to take fitness risks in Scottish Cup final



Philippe Clement is ready to take risks with his injury-hit Rangers squad to finish the season on a high against Celtic in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final on Saturday.

The Light Blues took just one point from four cinch Premiership games this season against their Old Firm rivals, who won their third successive title by eight points.

The Gers boss has juggled with team selections in recent months due to injuries, with Leon Balogun, John Souttar, Tom Lawrence, Borna Barisic, Connor Goldson, Oscar Cortes, Rabbi Matondo and Danilo missing last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle.

Abdallah Sima and Ridvan Yilmaz got some more minutes after returning from injury, while Ryan Jack is also fit again and John Lundstram back from a two-game suspension.

With one last chance to overcome their city rivals this season at Hampden Park, Clement will keep everyone guessing as to which players he has available as he looks to end the season with a cup double, having won the Viaplay Cup in December.

“I don’t want to say too much about the squad,” he said.

“This is the final game, the decisive game, so maybe we have to take some risks with players that we don’t normally do.

“So I don’t want to get into which player is ready or not or who can start or not.

“I have done every three days with you guys (the media) this season, this one I don’t want to speak too much about that.

“It is always more than a trophy in this country between the two clubs.

“Of course you want a better preparation. The last six, eight weeks have been difficult with players going out, coming back but missing rhythm.

“It is now about this one moment, about 90 minutes, 120 minutes, penalties, to give everything with everyone who is available.

“I think a few players want to come on the pitch with crutches. I can’t allow that of course, but we are going to go hard with the team, with every energy that is available in the building.

“We have to focus on this moment, grab the moment. All the players want to play in this game. All of them.

“Some want to go on the edge to play that game so we need to make smart decisions about that, how many minutes they can play without too much risk. But they want to play.

“I need to see on Friday at training. That is the final moment to show you are fit enough to play some minutes in the game. I sense an energy and desire to end the season in a good way.”

Rangers fans remain frustrated at Lundstram’s red card against Celtic at Parkhead earlier this month for a challenge on Alistair Johnston.

Lundstram also scored an own goal in the game that effectively ended the Light Blues’ title hopes, but Clement is taking no notice of supporter disgruntlement as he considers bringing the midfielder back.

He said : “I am never going to make decisions on what fans are thinking because that is emotion.

“They don’t see training, they don’t see the team working, they don’t even know the players, how they are or how they are in the dressing room.

“I don’t need to answer about whether I need to start with him or not.

“It is a decision that I make with my staff with what I see in training and what I’ve seen in the last couple of months in the games.”

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