Chris Jack in Florida: Rangers’ trip Stateside provides opportunity to those with point to prove


RETURNING home with the Florida Cup in their luggage isn’t the most pressing concern for Rangers this week.

But the matches with Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians are important in their own way for Graeme Murty and his side.

The Premiership title may be outwith Rangers’ reach this term but with second place to be fought for and the Scottish Cup in their sights, there is still plenty at stake in the coming months.

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Three fresh faces – two of whom are no strangers to Ibrox – have joined the Gers squad in the Sunshine State as the clouds from a mixed first half of the campaign have been lifted that little bit more.

Jimmy Nicholl will take up a seat beside Murty in the dugout at the Orlando City Stadium on Thursday and at the Spectrum Stadium on Saturday after he was appointed as assistant manager.

And in midfielder Sean Goss and forward Jamie Murphy, the Gers coaching staff have players that are determined to make a positive first impression.

Rangers went into the Premiership shutdown on the back of the Old Firm draw at Parkhead and will come out of it with a trip to Fraserburgh as they bid to avoid a Scottish Cup upset a week on Sunday.

The two Florida Cup clashes against their Brazilian opponents are certainly different tests, but they are vital ones for Goss and Murphy, as well as the likes of Andy Halliday and Michael O’Halloran.

The pair were part of Pedro Caixinha’s clear-out in the summer but have returned from their stints with Gabala and St Johnstone respectively with a second chance to catch the eye.

It will take Halliday time to get back up to speed after an unsuccessful spell in Azerbaijan, while O’Halloran has plenty of doubters to win over after a low-key Gers career first time around.

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Both will surely get some game time in the coming days and the matches give Murty a chance to keep his squad ticking over before they return to competitive action.

The IMG Academy has been Rangers’ home from home this week and the Light Blues have made the most of the world-class facilities at the Bradenton complex.

Some of the greatest names in baseball, basketball, American football and tennis have come through the IMG system and no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of sporting greatness.

A Florida Cup win wouldn’t quite merit a place on the honours list for Rangers. But their time Stateside could still prove crucial come the end of the campaign.

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