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IF God was at work last night He couldn't have picked a colder place than Cumbernauld to be putting in an overtime shift.


Marvin Andrews was his jobsheet and the task in hand was to show that the Rangers defender's torn cruciate knee ligament could be healed without an operation.

More than that, Andrews was determined to play 45 minutes just 17 days after sustaining an injury that could have wrecked his career at the age of 28.

No, this was not the sort of treatment that most of us would demand, a doctor's diagnosis and a surgeon's scalpel, but an unshakeable belief that a higher being would look after him and make things all right.

And so it came to pass that at 5.52pm last night, Andrews bounded off the Rangers reserve team bus at Broadwood Stadium to use Clyde's ground as a testing pad for the left leg he so severely damaged against Dundee at Dens Park.

He had missed one game - the CIS Cup Final against Motherwell - but the Trinidadian has no intention of sitting out any more and wanted to prove to Alex McLeish that he will be available for selection against the same team at Fir Park on Sunday.

Bizarre, outlandish, call it what you will. But the fact is that at 6.19pm Andrews led this young Rangers team out of the Clyde tunnel to begin the warm-up for their Under-21 match against Hibs.

A minute later he looked as if he wouldn't have to use the Clyde Tunnel to get from the north to the south side of his adopted city ever again. He'd probably just walk across the riverYou could see all the other players, and most notably Ian Durrant - who knows a thing or two about cruciate knee ligaments - - not wanting to stare at him. But they were clocking him all right. As was club doc Ian McGuinness from the sidelines.

But Andrews was running,sprinting, turning to his left and to the right. He was throwing his knees up to his chest and stretching his legs. And all the time he was smiling.

In fact, I'm sure that just for a second he seemed to be hovering a couple of inches off the green turf but the Broadwood lights hadn't come on at that stage so that might have been a figment of the imagination.

But strange things were happening. This was not the behaviour of a man whose cruciate had been torn.

A short, sharp passing game was then called by coach John Brown and once again big Marv was zipping the ball across the surface accurately Maybe God had given a range of passing while He was at it - you know the kind of thing, buy into one miracle and get another one free.

Ten minutes from kick-off, the players trooped back off to begin final preparations for the match. McLeish was nowhere to be seen but assistant boss Andy Watson had put in an appearance.

He wasn't difficult to pick out because there were less than 100 people in the main stand - the only one in use. In fact, there were almost more snappers than punters in attendance.

Poor Hibs could have come out wearing pink tutus and they still wouldn't have had their pictures taken.This was all about one man and his mission.

Perhaps he'd visited his mission in the afternoon and used the Reverend Joe Nwokoye's healing hands, but whatever he'd done he seemed to be in the right frame of mind.

Maybe it was a case of whistling in the graveyard at midnight but he was full of smiles and genuinely seemed at ease with himself.

Rev Joe, from Marvin's church, the Zion Praise Centre in Kirkcaldy, had already insisted that the big man would play again for Rangers this season. Not THE Big Man,of course.Brian Laudrup retired ages agoBut as the whistle blew for Hibs to kick off, it was time for the kidding to stop and maybe for a final silent prayer to be offered.

Within 14 SECONDS, though, Andrews had come through his first test.

He launched himself into a right-footed sliding tackle on Kevin MacDonald, won the ball and got up without even flinching.

Before a minute had passed, Rangers were a goal up through Tom Brighton after a fine pass from Bojan Djordjic but it wasn't before all eyes were on big No.4 again.

A carefully--guided backpass with his head mopped up a moment of danger before he conceded a corner with sliding challenge on Sam Morrow that needed perfect timing to prevent it being a penalty.

But it took only eight minutes for the first moment to cause a collective intake of breath.

A long punt, a jump with Amadou Konte, and he came down with all his weight on his left leg. It buckled for a split second and the Hibs attacker went to aid.

Andrews felt the knee, flexed it, limped around a bit and when the doctor came on during a break in play seconds later, Andrews insisted to him that he was fine.And you know what?He was.

Hibs equalised through Antonio Murray after 26 minutes and the score ended there. But this was like watching a horror movie through a crack in the curtains. You just kept waiting for the moment the big man would crumble and thankfully it didn't happen.

Not this time. But what about the next time? Or the time after that? Last night, though, was a triumph for Andrews.

There was no truth in the rumour, though, that he turned five loaves and two fishes into enough salmon sandwiches to feed both teams and the crowd at half-time