PREVIEW: RANGERS - HEARTS
Scottish Premier League action resumes this weekend for Maurice Edu and Rangers who host Hearts on Saturday at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow.
After starting in last week's league win over Hamilton, Edu will likely see himself in head coach Walter Smith's first 11 when the teams take the field.
Edu also came off the bench to play in the final 20 minutes of Tuesday's Scottish Cup victory over Hamilton which saw the Light Blues win 2-0 in extra time courtesy of Stevie Whittaker's two goals.
Despite the success of advancing to the fifth round of the Cup competition and extending their SPL lead to nine points over Celtic, Rangers are still saddled with a host of injury issues including American DaMarcus Beasley who will once again be unavailable for Smith but could return for Wednesday's tussle versus St. Mirren.
The most recent blows for ‘Gers came on Tuesday night when Kenny Miller and Nacho Novo, both playing up front, suffered hamstring and ankle injuries respectively. Add to the fact that striker Kyle Lafferty is still battling the flu and leading scorer Kris Boyd is out until February following a hernia operation, it leaves Smith with very few options to pencil in at the attacking positions.
The uncertainty of where the goals will come from is sure to place a greater impetus on Edu and his fellow midfielders to be playmakers and generate offensive opportunities.
Steven Naismith is also set to miss for the Glasgow club as will Pedro Mendes who played in a midweek reserve match but is still several days away from making a full recovery.
The Portuguese midfielder also made news this week reiterating his desire to leave Rangers should Sporting Lisbon extend him an offer.
Lastly, defender Madjid Bougherra is still away having helped the Algeria qualify for the quarterfinals at the African Cup of Nations.
Hearts are also stricken with a laundry list of injuries but have still managed to go unbeaten in their last six league matches consisting of four wins and two draws.
Head coach Csaba László will have his group ready for revenge after falling to Rangers in their only meeting of the season. A late Kris Boyd penalty which was vehemently protested by the Jambos sealed a comeback 1-2 victory for the Light Blues.
The visitors from Edinburgh are likely to return Marius Zaliukas, Jose Goncalves and Gary Glen to the fold but Andy Drive, Calum Elliot, David Templeton, Dawid Kucharski, Arvydas Novikovas, Jamie Mole, Craig Thomson, Laryea Kingston and Jamie McDonald are all scheduled to sit out due to injury.