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Philippe Clement determined to deliver Scottish Cup success to Rangers

Rangers manager Philippe Clement positive ahead of cup final (Jane Barlow/PA)
Rangers manager Philippe Clement positive ahead of cup final (Jane Barlow/PA)

Boss Philippe Clement claims Rangers are intent on giving their supporters “something special” in next week’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final against Celtic at Hampden Park.

Clement spoke after watching his side let slip a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Hearts in the final cinch Premiership game of the season at Tynecastle.

Jambos skipper Lawrence Shankland scored his 31st goal of the season for Hearts in the 33rd minute of what was effectively a dead rubber but goals from Gers winger Ross McCausland, midfielder Todd Cantwell and substitute Fabio Silva put the visitors in a commanding position.

However, Jambos substitute Dexter Lembikisa reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute before Kyosuke Tagawa, another Gorgie replacement, levelled in the last of five added minutes.

Clement needs no reminding Rangers failed to beat Celtic in four cinch Premiership games this season – three under his watch after he took over last October – and finished eight points behind the champions in second place but he will go to Hampden with belief.

He said: “In one game, everything is possible.

“And in the three games I’ve had against them we got a draw and lost the other two 2-1 at Celtic Park when we played a big part of those games with 10 men.

“Every time it was really tight. I know my players will go full in this last game to give the fans something special. That’s why I believe.”

While Abdallah Sima and Dujon Sterling returned from injury to play a part in the second half and Ridvan Yilmaz also got more minutes off the bench, Clement was still without players such as Tom Lawrence, Rabbi Matondo, John Souttar, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun and Borna Barisic as they continue to recover from various injuries while John Lundstram will be free of suspension.

He admits naming a team may take some time, adding: “We will see, it was positive that Abda and Ridvan could take some minutes today. We will see if Leon Balogun can be fit again. We are going to see in the week so in that way it is difficult for me to plan the starting XI and what players are going to make it.

“We need to assess with the medical and performance staff how many players are available and for how many minutes. A player could be fit on Friday and play some minutes and I need to wait until that moment.

“I don’t like this situation but it’s been that way for a few weeks.”

Hearts boss Steven Naismith believes Scotland’s Euro 2024 training camp will be key for Shankland to prove to national team boss Steve Clarke he is ready to face Germany in the tournament opener on June 14 but believes the perception of his skipper has changed.

Shankland on Friday landed the Scottish Football Writers’ Player of the Year award having already scooped the PFA Scotland and cinch Premiership Player of the Year accolades.

“The next three weeks in the training camp is probably the biggest part,” said Naismith, who also believes his two goalkeepers, Zander Clark and Craig Gordon, have “both done all they can to show the manager they are capable and deserve a place in the squad. We have two brilliant goalkeepers”.

“He can’t be in better form going into it. He answered a lot of questions in the last internationals.

“But the next three weeks are important when the manager sets eyes on all the players on the training pitch each day.

“But Shanks is in brilliant form, full of confidence.

“At the start of the season the question was does he deserve to be in the squad. The question now is does he deserve to start. That’s credit to him for getting himself into that position.”