PREVIEW: HIBERNIAN - RANGERS
All signs point towards Maurice Edu joining a rejuvenated DaMarcus Beasley in Rangers' Sunday encounter versus Hibernian at Easter Road in Edinburgh.
Beasley has been nothing short of dazzling the last several matches and is expected to once again man the right midfield for head coach Walter Smith.
The Indiana native has scored two goals in his last two matches in addition to earning assists in each affair. The spark that Beasley has given the Light Blues has helped generate 15 goals in the team's last four Scottish Premier League matches.
The former PSV Eindhoven man also picked up Man of the Match honors in last weekend's 6-1 thrashing of Motherwell which has only helped dissipate talk of the winger being moved during the winter transfer period.
Sunday's encounter is also likely to mark the return of Edu to the Rangers first team following a six month absence due to a knee injury which required surgery.
Edu had initially anticipated that he would be back in September but his recuperation proved to be longer than expected. The Fontana, California native finally returned to training several weeks ago and then played in a game setting on Monday for the Rangers reserve team.
The midfielder went 80 minutes in the closed-doors match which has assured Smith that Edu will be ready to take to the field on Sunday.
The Rangers head man may even give the former Toronto FC star a starting nod even after the long layoff. Several weeks ago Smith tapped Kirk Broadfoot in his starting 11 versus St. Johnstone after the defender had spent nine months on the sidelines. Broadfoot would end up going the full 90 minutes versus the Saints, a fate that may also await Edu at Easter Road.
With the Glasgow club scoring goals at a zealous pace, Smith has also seen his club extend their lead in the SPL standings to four points after Celtic who went down in defeat last weekend. A showdown on January 3rd looms between the Old Firm rivals and could very well be the match where the Light Blues put the Hoops in their rearview mirror for good.
Sunday's affair will certainly have its pitfalls as Hibernian are riding an 11 match unbeaten streak which has included six wins and five draws including an impressive 1-1 result at Ibrox Stadium back in October.
Hibs' are enjoying one of their finest starts in years as they sit in third place in the league table with 32 points, just five points behind the visitors.
The hosts will be without one of their best defenders as Sol Bamba heads home to the Ivory Coast to prepare for the African Cup of Nations. Rangers will be without injured Portuguese midfielder Pedro Mendes who is slotted to return in January.