PREVIEW: RANGERS - DUNDEE UNITED
A spot in the Scottish Cup semifinals is at stake for DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu as Rangers welcome in Dundee United to Ibrox Stadium on Sunday in Glasgow.
After starting the last several cup matches, it is expected that head coach Walter Smith will slot Edu into his starting midfield.
Beasley has been typically used in only Scottish Premier League matches so fans of the Indiana native can expect him to start the match on the bench but be available for a second half substitution should Rangers require an offensive spark.
While the Light Blues have steamrolled opponents this season in SPL play, the road to the cup quarterfinals has been a rocky one.
The previous two rounds have seen Rangers needing dual replay victories to advance to the next round. A fourth round match-up versus Hamilton resulted in a nail-biting 3-3 draw and only an extra time win in the replay at Ibrox saw Rangers through to the final 16.
St. Mirren then proved to be a stingy test in the fifth round as a goalless draw forced another replay at Ibrox where a late Kris Boyd goal booked a ticket to the quarters for Smith's squad.
The cornerstone of Rangers' success all season long has been the play of the defense which has recorded an astounding 10 shutouts in its last 13 matches.
The recent play of Edu in the team's engine room has contributed to this spectacular run which has also seen their unbeaten streak reach 20 matches in all competitions.
Furthermore, the Rangers back line will be buoyed by the return of star defender Madjid Bougherra who has recovered from a hamstring injury.
United's league record has been solid this season as they sit fourth in the SPL table. The Light Blues will have to be on the lookout for defender Darren Dods who always seems to find trouble when facing Rangers.
Dods was the player who injured Edu in the final match of last season forcing the US international to the sidelines for seven months. The Arabs' defender also lured Rangers striker Kenny Miller into a scuffle during a Rangers 7-1 victory back on December 30th in which Miller receive a red card while Dods emerged card-less.
Smith will be able to count on a full squad on Sunday while United head coach Peter Houston will be without long term injurees Lee Wilkie, Danny Cadamarteri and Scott Robertson.