LEO Beenhakker, the veteran Dutch coach who is now in charge of Trinidad and Tobago, insisted last night that he had spoken to Rangers manager Alex McLeish in the last few days about playing Marvin Andrews in next month’s Gold Cup. According to Beenhakker, there is “no problem”.
Sources at Ibrox, however, say that McLeish is unhappy at the prospect of his central defender playing more games for his country this summer. Despite his celebrated knee injury, for which he has refused surgery, Andrews played in this month’s World Cup qualifying matches against Panama and Mexico. Now he faces the prospect of at least three more games in the Gold Cup which is being staged in Miami.
Andrews, like other European-based players, has been resting since Trinidad’s last game, a 2-0 defeat in Mexico on June 8. The Caribbean squad meet up again tomorrow, and are due to play Honduras, Panama and Colombia in the Gold Cup, with the first match on July 6. Andrews’ attendance means he will miss Rangers’ pre-season tour of Canada.
“There is no situation with Marvin Andrews,” a patently irate Beenhakker said last night. “I don’t understand all the fuss over there (in Scotland). I had two very good conversations with Alex McLeish, the last one a few days ago, and everything is arranged. We talked about it and there is no problem at all. He knows it’s an official tournament, a Fifa competition. Of course he will complain about the rules like everybody does, but we just talked about the situation and there’s no problem at all.”
According to Beenhakker, Andrews is keen to continue playing for his country in games which the Trinidad and Tobago national coach sees as vital preparation for the next series of World Cup qualifiers.
As well as losing, Beenhakker’s side beat the same Panama side 2-0 in an earlier game on June 4. Although they lie fifth, with only four points from five games in the six-team group, they could still make the finals in Germany next year as three teams go through.
“Marvin played very well, and played the full 90 minutes in both matches,” reported Beenhakker. “I was very happy and satisfied with him. He did a great job and is a very important member of the squad inside the pitch and outside it also. He has plenty of experience and is very interested to play in the national team and help our chances to get to Germany.
“I have a good connection with Glasgow Rangers and we know exactly what we have to do with him and how we have to take care of him. I will do that, no problem at all. After the Mexico game the ones who play in Europe had a summer holiday. I have experience of 40 years so I’m not stupid. I know I have to work in two groups on Monday – the guys still in competition and the ones who had a rest.”
McLeish’s continuing worries about Andrews are set against a background of his problems in central defence. Sotirios Kyrgiakos played alongside Andrews throughout the second part of the season as a loan signing before heading for Germany with Greece in the Confederations Cup. But, despite being contracted to Rangers until the end of the month, the defender has effectively been sent back home to Panathinaikos.
The Ibrox side retain some hope of bringing fellow Greek centre half Stathis Tavlaridis to Glasgow, but have failed to agree terms with his club, Lille, who have told Rangers they will have to increase an initial bid of £1.5m. Breaking the impasse may well require the player to demand a move, which is far from certain.
All of which underlines Andrews’ importance, despite McLeish having signed Ian Murray and Brahim Hemdani from Hibs and Marseille respectively.