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ALEX McLEISH last night warned Marvin Andrews his Rangers career could be over unless he has an operation on his damaged knee.

The defender was unable to train yesterday and his movement has been seriously restricted since he played in a reserve game against Hibs on Wednesday night.

That was supposed to prove to Rangers there was no need for surgery on his damaged cruciate ligament.

The club have been respectful of Andrews' religious convictions but their patience has now been exhausted and they want conventional medicine to take over from faith healing.

McLeish said yesterday the Trinadadian had been sent away to 'reflect' on what course of action he should take over his injury.

The manager,making it obvious he considers corrective surgery to be the only cure, said: 'This is not an injury that requires rest.

'Marvin tried his knee out in the reserve match and it has no stiffened up. He's gone away to reflect on what happens next. It's up to him if he wants to change his mind about surgery.

'He's in limbo at the moment and I can't answer any questions about whether he'll play for us again this season.'

The dilemma that has to be resolved is whether Andrews will compromise his religious beliefs and accept that he has to undergo surgery.

If he doesn't agree to be hospitalised,Andrews can't be picked by a manager who knows the player is suffering from a serious injury.

McLeish said: 'I'm paid to make decisions and I've got to look at the bigger picture. I have to go what I see in training every day.Marvin can say he wants to play but I'm the one who picks the team.

'He's deserved to bea first pick for us this season and if he was 100 per cent fit I would have a selection dilemma this weekend after Bob Malcolm's performance in his place during the CIS Cup Final.'

But there is no dilemma at the moment because Andrews is far from fully fit and now unable to train with his team-mates.

The player now needs to put his faith in the hands of doctors who can remedy his problem because he won't get a game again until that happens.

McLeish was happy to talk up Malcolm's contribution as a further incentive to Andrews to appreciate that time is running out for him.

He said: 'It would have been difficult to leave Bob out of the team this weekend,in any case.

'His temperament has always been good.Bob's accepted being left out of the side in the past and I don't recall him having a bad game when he's been in the team.'

If Andrews was left in any doubt what his manager was trying to tell him, he got another hint when McLeish then praised Michael Ball, a player who endured two years' worth of injury problems before eventually coming good at Ibrox.

McLeish said: 'He had a career-threatening injury and then Michael took stock. Now he wants to make sure he doesn't look back one day and know that he failed to fulfil his potential.'

Carefully-chosen words have been the manager's speciality this week.

Andrews has been put in his place and Gregory Vignal was spoken to on the subject of divided loyalties.

The Frenchman is out of contract at the end of the season and McLeish needed to know the defender's mind was focused on what he had to do for Rangers before the expiry date.

McLeish said: 'I had a chat with Gregory because I needed to know his mind was on the job.

'He has become better and better for us this season but he is free to go elsewhere soon and we're approaching the decisive phase of the championship.

'A lot of the players have had the opportunity to recharge their batteries over the last couple of weeks because of international football but now they need to concentrate on their bread and butter.

'The players shouldn't think that they just need to turn up to win the game at Motherwell on Sunday but equally they shouldn't go to Fir Park with any sense of apprehension.

'Motherwell will want to atone for what happened when we beat them 5-1 in the Cup Final and it'll bea very difficult game for us.'

The only thing McLeish can promise between now and the end of the season is the presence of danger in every fixture.

He said: 'I can't guarantee there won't be a slip-up. Luck can go against you sometimes.'

What the manager won't stand for is one of his players making himself unavailable for the championship run-in while trying to stand logic on its head and refusing to accept that medical assistance is his only hope of regaining fitness.