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Rangers manager Alex McLeish is confident Marvin Andrews and Thomas Buffel will return for Saturday's Old Firm derby after both missed the 3-2 defeat at Aberdeen.


McLeish has plenty of thinking to do ahead of the Ibrox showdown with Celtic, who are now above the champions in the SPL table.

Fernando Ricksen is definitely out following his sending-off at Pittodrie, which swung Sunday's game back in Aberdeen's favour after Rangers had come back from 2-0 down.

Andrews, who is playing on with cruciate ligament damage sustained last season, was not present at Pittodrie as he had been allowed to leave early to prepare for Trinidad and Tobago's World Cup qualifier in the USA on Wednesday.

Buffel, who also has a midweek international when Belgium play Greece in a Brussels friendly, missed out because of a knee injury.

McLeish said: "Marvin has done an enormous amount of travelling recently and doing that again and going right into a game could set him back so we decided to let him go early.

"I felt I was adequately covered by the experienced players I had but unfortunately we lost three goals.

"Whether Marvin would have made a difference I don't know. He will be back in time for Saturday but it is a tight schedule. He gets back to Glasgow on Friday morning.

"He has done it before so a precedent has been set - and he's the guy who sets the new parameters for that kind of thing.

"Thomas should be okay for next week. I spoke to the Belgium coach (Aime Anthuenis) and he really wants him to come.

"It is just a knock on the knee as opposed to a twist so if it dies down he can play a part in that game. But he is very mindful he has the Celtic game at the end of the week."

Striker Dado Prso, who headed home Rangers' first, is also a fitness worry as he has been toiling with an ankle problem and has a long-standing knee injury which once required his leg to be broken so surgeons could operate.

Rangers are keen to spare him non-essential games and argue that Croatia's Zagreb friendly with Brazil, although glamorous, is such a match.

McLeish said: "It is up to Dado and Croatia now. I think it is going to be his decision."

Bob Malcolm had deputised for Andrews but was taken off at half-time after Russell Anderson and Steve Lovell had given the Dons a two-goal lead.

The manager explained: "We let in two goals out of nothing really. We didn't defend the free-kick well for the first and we then made a mess of a routine through-ball for the second.

"I then felt I had to make a change. It wasn't that I felt the defence wasn't working, it was more to spark the rest of the team."

Peter Lovenkrands netted a spectacular equaliser but after Ricksen was sent off with 35 minutes remaining, Jamie Smith capitalised on a Maurice Ross error to fire a late winner for Aberdeen.