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Rangers in Dubai

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Rangers touched down in Dubai last night with the hard-work in the Emirates sunshine beginning in earnest today – and assistant boss Gary McAllister has been outlining what the players can expect.

The stunning Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex will be home to the Light Blues for the remainder of the week, before they round things off with a friendly match against Uzbekistani Champions Lokomotiv Tashkent on Saturday morning.

“We come here with the fact that we’ll be training in a nice bit of heat which will be a nice change from the Scottish winter,” explained McAllister.

“I think we will be going over quite a bit of old ground, so there will be loads of reminders defensively and offensively as well as the tactical stuff.

“From a fitness point of view, I think the sports analysis guys will be taking note of their fitness levels – I’m not going to say it will be a mini pre-season, but there will be a wee bit of physical work and some physical testing to see where the players are and looking at that, their ability to get through to the end of the season without any problems.

“It’s a nice coming together again after a great first-half of the season – there will be reminders from us about what happened last season, but I don’t think we’ll need to layer that – I think the players know what is expected of them and they know the levels that are required when we start back with the game next Friday against Stranraer, and we want to bounce into the second part of the season.”

Having played the majority of his career in England with no winter breaks, the shutdown came as new to McAllister and boss Steven Gerrard last season, where the Light Blues jetted-out to Tenerife.

He believes such a pause to be a benefit, and reckons the Premier League clubs south of the border, who are trialling a version of it this season, will be big supporters.

“I must admit,” he continued, “I was a big traditionalist as someone who played over Christmas and New Year, but this three-week break, I think it would be welcomed south of the border.

“I know there is a bit of a trial going to happen this season, and I think it is something a lot of the managers in the English Premier League – and you hear them complaining about the number of games over the festive period – would welcome.

“In all other sports, I don’t think you would ask elite athletes to perform as often as they do over the festive period – I have certainly enjoyed it, I know the players have certainly enjoyed it and I also think players south of the border would welcome it as well.”

Among the travelling party in Dubai this week will be injured stars Filip Helander and Ross McCrorie.

Helander was injured in the League Cup Final on December 8 while McCrorie was hurt playing for loan club Portsmouth on December 21 – both will work in the sunshine under the watchful eye of the club’s medical and recovery teams.

Meanwhile, four Academy players – Kai Kennedy, Nathan Patterson, James Maxwell and Dapo Mebude – have travelled, along with Lewis Mayo and Kieran Wright who have been more familiar faces on the first-team side of things this season.

Saturday’s clash  at the impressive Sevens Stadium will be the third time Gers will have played a match in Dubai, having previously faced local side Al-Nasr in 1980, and then Everton in 1987 as the Champions of England and Scotland met.

Al Nasr were defeated 2-1 in 1980 thanks to goals from Gordon Smith and Derek Johnstone, while after a 2-2 draw with the Toffees in which goals from Robert Fleck and Ally McCoist had brought Gers back from 2-0 down with 10 minutes left, Graeme Souness’ side won 8-7 on penalties to be declared ‘British Champions.’




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