MARVIN ANDREWS has taken the extraordinary decision to defy the opinion of Rangers' medical staff and continue playing despite being diagnosed as having suffered cruciate ligament damage.

The Ibrox club revealed yesterday, in a terse statement, that the defender had damaged the ligament in his left knee during the Bank of Scotland Premierleague match against Dundee at Dens Park earlier this month.

Andrews has been advised that surgery is required to cure the problem but is unwilling to undergo the procedure and has declared himself available for selection.

It remains to be seen, though, whether Alex McLeish, the Ibrox manager, will use the player against the recommendation of club doctors.

Rangers refused to expand upon the reasoning behind the 29-year-old's decision. He is, though, a devout Christian and part-time faith healer, which seems likely to have influenced his thinking.

The former Raith Rovers and Livingston defender has previously claimed he was cured of a groin injury by Joe Nwokoye, pastor of the Zion Praise International Church in Kirkcaldy.

The Herald reported yesterday that Rangers had sought a second opinion on the state of Andrews' knee towards the end of last week. It would appear that it was not enough to convince the Trinidad and Tobago internationalist of the need for surgery.

A leading sports injury specialist said last night that, depending on the severity of the damage to the cruciate ligament, there was a small minority of players who could continue in top-level football without an operation. The stability of the knee can, however, be affected.

"Marvin Andrews sustained cruciate ligament damage to his left knee in the game against Dundee on Sunday, 13 March," said a statement on Rangers' official website. "It is the medical opinion that he requires an operation.

"Marvin fully understands the advice he has received, however, has declared himself fit and wishes to continue training and playing."

Stefan Klos, the Rangers goalkeeper and captain, is recuperating from surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament sustained in a training ground accident in January.

The prognosis for Klos was a six-month lay-off, which was also the recovery period for estimated for Gavin Rae, the Ibrox midfielder. Last month, McLeish declared that operation a complete success, although Rae will be absent until next season with an unrelated tendinitis problem.

The signing of Andrews, on a free transfer from Livingston, raised some eyebrows but McLeish was vindicated by a string of powerful performances which earned the player the appreciation of supporters. His form led to Andrews being among six nominees named last month for Rangers' player of the year award.

He scored the breakthrough goal for Rangers in the match at Dens Park in which he suffered the cruciate ligament damage, helping McLeish's side earn three valuable points.

Andrews missed the CIS Insurance Cup final success over Motherwell before withdrawing from the Trinidad and Tobago squad for their latest World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and Honduras. He now wishes to be considered for selection for the remaining eight games of Rangers' contest with Celtic for the Bank of Scotland Premierleague title.

There is clearly a conflict between club and player as to the best way forward but Andrews is a man not easily swayed from his convictions. The risks of his choice are not easily quantified.

"Cruciate ligament damage can go from a relatively minor injury, where you could play on with minimal increased risk, to being an appalling injury where it would be stupid to consider even recreational football," one specialist told The Herald.

"It covers such a wide spectrum that it's really difficult to know.

"It depends entirely on the amount of instability in the knee. If there is a lot, then most would be inclined to surgery, the primary benefit of which is to restore stability. If there is a complete rupture, most professional footballers would have a reconstruction.

"There are players who have cruciate injuries which are not picked up for whatever reason. You find out years down the line that they have bust their cruciate and been able to play top-level football.

"You could make an attempt to get back playing and see how it goes. There is a minority who can manage without surgery, but it's rare."