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With so many players from the Netherlands in their ranks, Rangers FC will not lack for motivation as they attempt to build a lead against Feyenoord in the first leg of their UEFA Cup fourth-round tie on Thursday.
'Desperate to play'
However, Ronald de Boer, one of their key Dutchmen, may miss the reunion with his fellow countrymen after injuring his foot playing for the Netherlands last week against England in an international side picked by Dick Advocaat, the director of football at Ibrox. Manager Alex McLeish is prepared to give De Boer as long as possible to prove his fitness, saying: "He has been such an important player for us recently that I feel we owe him at least that. He is desperate to play in the game and the fact that he is a former [AFC] Ajax man gives him another edge."
Score to settle
Better news surrounds Tore André Flo who has been suffering from a stomach bug but is expected to be fit. Andrei Kanchelskis is included in a 19-man squad, while Neil McCann and Stephen Hughes are both fit and available for selection. McLeish has a score to settle with Feyenoord as he was part of the Aberdeen FC side that lost out to them in the 1987 UEFA Cup. In fact, the visitors have never been eliminated from European competition by Scottish opposition.
Nevertheless, Feyenoord coach Bert van Marwijk says Rangers will start as favourites. "For me it is obvious that their squad contains more quality than ours," he said. He has called on his senior performers to set the right example, adding: "It's time for my most experienced players like [Pierre] Van Hooijdonk, [Jon Dahl] Tomasson, [Patrick] Paauwe, [Paul] Bosvelt and [Kees] Van Wonderen to take their responsibility and lead their team through this tough match."
De Haan injured
Progress for the Rotterdam club is important because they are to host this season's final. They must do without key defender Ferry de Haan in the first game in Glasgow's Ibrox stadium, however, after he hurt his groin last weekend. Van Marwijk is reluctant to risk him with the return fixture only a week away.
Feyenoord were replaced by Ajax at the head of the Eredivisie on Sunday after a surprise defeat at SBV Vitesse. It will also be a cause for concern that in Europe this year they have won only two of their eight games, against FC Spartak Moscow and SC Freiburg.
One trump card for Feyenoord could be the presence of Van Hooijdonk, who returns to the city where he found success with Celtic FC. As the leading scorer in the Dutch league he will command attention from the home defence while an additional motivation for both sets of players lies in the fact that the winners face either Leeds United AFC or PSV Eindhoven in the quarter-finals.
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