PREVIEW: HAMILTON ACADEMICAL - RANGERS
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Friday, January 8, 2010
The fourth round of the Scottish Cup takes center stage amid frigid conditions for Maurice Edu and Rangers who travel to Hamilton on Sunday.

Snow and ice has hampered the UK for the last several weeks and put Sunday's match in jeopardy, however on Friday morning Scottish Football Association officials announced that the match would continue as scheduled.

Edu ended up playing the final 77 minutes of last week's 1-1 draw versus Celtic after Spanish midfielder Nacho Novo had to leave with a thigh contusion. With Rangers announcing that Novo will miss Sunday's clash, USMNT fans can expect to see the Californian starting in the midfield.

Fellow American DaMarcus Beasley continues to be hindered by a thigh strain and will not be back until next weekend when Rangers travel to Hamilton for the second time in seven days for a league match.

Last week's match againt Celtic showed that Edu is still shaking off the rust following his knee surgery which sidelined him almost seven months. The former Maryland standout was finally able to settle into the match in the final 40 minutes and showed the poise and composure that Rangers fans witnessed during last spring's title run.

Transfer talk has also been a topic this past week for the Glasgow club as injured Portuguese midfielder Pedro Mendes has been rumored to a move with Sporting Lisbon while team and SPL leading scorer Kris Boyd may pack up his 19 goals and head off to English Championship club Middlesborough.

Adding to the distractions, head coach Walter Smith will also have to do without defender Madjid Bougherra who is with the Algerian national team at the African Cup of Nations in Angola. Steven Naismith is also out due to injury but forward Kenny Miller returns from suspension and Kevin Thomson should be back in the fold after recovering from a calf injury.

The players at Hamilton will be itching to return to action as the last two matches for the Accies have been postponed due to inclement weather. Hamilton are 10th in the SPL standings and were easily defeated by the Light Blues 4-1 at Ibrox Stadium back in August in the teams' only other duel this season.

The hosts have a slew of injuries with Alex Neil nursing an ankle injury and Mark McLaughlin and James Wesolowski out with hamstring strains. Long-term injurees Derek Lyle and James Gibson will also be unavailable.
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