Motherwell match a chance to say thanks, say Rangers

Alistair Watson
Rangers defender Steven Whittaker, pictured here in February 2011, believes Saturday's game against Motherwell is an opportunity for the players to thank the fans for their support in what has been a turbulent season

Rangers defender Steven Whittaker believes Saturday's game against Motherwell is an opportunity for the players to thank the fans for their support in what has been a turbulent season.

The Ibrox club, which was docked 10 points for entering administration in February, face Stuart McCall's side in their final home game of the season.

It is likely to be an emotional afternoon for the players, with many expected to head for the exit in the summer despite the club's administrators Duff and Phelps announcing American businessman Bill Miller had been given preferred bidder status for the Ibrox side this week.

And Scotland international Whittaker, who scored in Wednesday's 5-0 defeat of Dundee United, has appealed to the supporters to turn out in numbers for the match.

"It has been the strangest season. I don't think anyone could have imagined anything like this back in July," Whittaker said.

"But it's the circumstance we are in and we've tried to adapt the best we can.

"It has been really tough to play with it in the background the last few months, but the supporters have been absolutely brilliant - they have stood by us and we want the chance to applaud that.

"It will be quite an emotional day for everybody because we have really been through such a difficult time since February.

"The biggest way for us to thank the support is by putting on a decent performance."

Ally McCoist's side clinched second spot in the Scottish Premier League with the win over Dundee United in midweek.

And given the £900,000 of a difference between second and third places, it is a position Rangers desperately needed to nail down.

"It's great for us. After going into administration and the 10 point deduction the title really slipped away from us so it was all about consolidating second place and we managed to do that," Whittaker said.

"For our own pride as much as anything we wanted to make sure we finished second.

"We were gutted at the way we lost to Celtic and were determined to make up for it."

Rangers will be without captain Steven Davis and Sasa Papac through injury for the match against Motherwell while striker Kyle Lafferty remains suspended for a breach of club discipline.

Old Firm rivals Celtic, 1-0 victors over St Johnstone on Thursday, take on Dundee United on Sunday. Having clinched the championship in early April the Hoops have little to play for and defender Charlie Mulgrew admits the players are already looking ahead to next season.

"I think it's important we do everything we can to prepare for the Champions League qualifiers, that'll be massive for everybody here," Mulgrew commented.

"We'll look to do better than this year. Next year we'll look to win the league again, and a run in the Champions League would be great, but first we have to prepare right and qualify.

"If we believe in ourselves and prepare right, then we can qualify. We just need to see who we get drawn against and take it from there."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon will watch the match from the stands after he was handed a three match ban from the Scottish Football Association for his conduct during the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Hearts.

On Monday, Hibernian take on Dunfermline in a relegation dogfight. The Pars trail Hibs by five points with two games remaining and know only a win will help them avoid the drop to the First Division.

Fixtures (1500 unless otherwise stated)


Rangers v Motherwell (1245), Kilmarnock v Aberdeen, St Mirren v Inverness CT


Dundee United v Celtic (1245), Hearts v St Johnstone


Hibernian v Dunfermline