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Old Firm may be too soon for Pedro


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By GARETH LAW

Published: Today

Pedro Mendes has confessed he'll miss the Old Firm game at Celtic Park on January 3.

Rangers boss Walter Smith had hoped the Portugal star would be back for the New Year clash with title rivals Celtic.

But Mendes, missing for eight weeks with a knee injury, said: "That game may be too soon.

"I just take it day by day and keep building up the knee.

"Of course, there's also match fitness and I need a good week's training in the legs before that.

"It's difficult to put a definite date on when I'll be back because of any reaction you can get from the work you did the day before.

"But I definitely hope to be back before the end of January."

Mendes' absence would be a massive blow to injury-hit Gers.

They look set to be without star defender Madjid Bougherra due to Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria.

And keeper Allan McGregor is facing a race against time to recover from a hamstring problem.

Mo Edu won't be fit, while Stevie Naismith and Jerome Rothen have yet to prove they are ready for the crucial festive schedule.

Bougherra is awaiting an answer from Algeria coach Rabah Saadane over his plea to play in the Old Firm game. But Algerian FA president Mohammed Raouraoua expects a hardline stance from Saadane.

Raouraoua said: "The law is clear. All the professionals have to join their respective national squads 14 days prior to the kick-off of the competition.

"There will be no exceptions - and that includes Bougherra."

Mendes suffered posterior ligament damage when he was forced off at half-time in the humiliating 4-1 Champions League loss to Unirea Urziceni.

His deflected opener had put Gers in front that night but hearing news of each sickening Romanian goal down in the physio room was another painful blow.

He added: "I felt a crack and some pain, but then the doc and physio examined me and I was okay. There was suddenly no pain.

"But after 15 minutes I started struggling a bit and for the last ten minutes of the first half I was in agony.

"It was an important game for the team though and you just didn't want to go off. But by half-time I just couldn't carry on.

"In the second half someone came in and said it was 2-1, then 3-1. It wasn't a good game."

http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/ho...-Firm-hell.html

Celtic or not, we really do miss him I think.

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The 30-year-old Mendes has been sidelined since damaging his knee ligaments in the disastrous Champions League home defeat to Unirea Urziceni in October.

He said: "If everything goes well I'll definitely be back in January."

Mendes is also determined to show Portugal manager Carlos Queiroz he has what it takes to star in South Africa this summer. The Ibrox ace added: "I don't think we have a friendly until March so it gives me plenty time to get back playing for Rangers - that's what I want most."

http://www.<No links to this website>/football/spl/...86908-21903516/

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Hopefully we can give Maurice Edu some game time before the Old Firm!

Would you leave Thomson out if Edu is fit enough to start?

Depends on how fit Edu was, who was all available, how Thomson was performing, and who the opposition was.

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Need Edu back as well. At least if he's back we will have some options in the centre rather than the one-paced McCulloch - Thomson partnership

The Thomson - McCulloch partnership should never been seen again. It just does not work.

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Need Edu back as well. At least if he's back we will have some options in the centre rather than the one-paced McCulloch - Thomson partnership

The Thomson - McCulloch partnership should never been seen again. It just does not work.

It's far too slow Muff. In any midfield you need a combination of things and those two are too alike each other. need Thomson or Edu in there with either Davis or Mendes. That should be your centre midfield 4 with Ness coming in if those guys are injured

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Need Edu back as well. At least if he's back we will have some options in the centre rather than the one-paced McCulloch - Thomson partnership

The Thomson - McCulloch partnership should never been seen again. It just does not work.

It's far too slow Muff. In any midfield you need a combination of things and those two are too alike each other. need Thomson or Edu in there with either Davis or Mendes. That should be your centre midfield 4 with Ness coming in if those guys are injured

There is no pace, creativity, organisation, balance, understanding.... You have two players trying to do the same job, and because of that, they are getting caught out, and are all over the place. They offer no protection to the back four, they are constantly over-run, and offer nothing in an attacking sense. They get in each other's way, and there is a massive big hole in one of the most important areas of the park!

It's possibly the worst central midfield pairing in the SPL. You have to play with one or another, not both, it's fucking obvious to see, but you'll still get some defending the selection <cr>

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Lets just make sure he is fully fit when he returns and not like Bazza last year and Thomson this year. Edu is fit for this saturday it appears so I hope he too is fully fit and does not take several weeks to get match fit.

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