No butts about it, hothead Mohsni is a risk for Coisty on next stage of The Journey

AS they made their way through ­Scottish football's bottom two divisions, Rangers were able to cope comfortably whenever a ­player was ordered off.

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Bilel Mohsni lies on the Pride Park turn after the incident with Russell Martin that led to his dismissal
Bilel Mohsni lies on the Pride Park turn after the incident with Russell Martin that led to his dismissal

But in the forthcoming SPFL Championship campaign they will face mostly full-time opposition and the loss of any individual will be more keenly felt.

So the ill-discipline of Bilel Mohsni could, if it was to continue, prove very costly for the Ibrox club as they attempt to secure a place in the top flight.

Indeed, the big centre-half's fragile temperament may have set Rangers back before they have even been kicked a ball in earnest this season.

Mohsni was red-carded for the third time in seven months for yet another hot-headed reaction during the pre-season friendly with Derby County at the iPro Stadium on Saturday.

Minutes after he had lost possession to the home team in the run-up to their second goal he reacted foolishly after a challenge by Scotland internationalist Chris Martin, who scored both of his side's goals in a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Mohsni appeared to aim a flying headbutt at Martin and was sent off immediately by referee Mark Heywood.

The French-Tunisian defender could now be suspended for the Petrofac Training Cup game against Hibs at Ibrox tomorrow night and the Championship opener with Hearts at Ibrox on Sunday.

McCoist is set to speak to his player about his impetuousness. It is not the first time he has been forced to do so since Mohsni's arrival in Scotland last summer. Yet what impact, if any, will this latest meeting have on a man who is now 27?

It is highly unlikely he will be able to change now. And it is unclear what the future holds for him at Rangers, despite the fact he was initially a massive favourite with the Ibrox fans.

Mohsni did make a positive contribution against Derby in the first half. Early on he dispossessed Simon Dawkins as the forward was bearing down on goal then cleared a shot by the same player off the line.

His rashness, though, could be too much of a risk in the second tier. The likes of Hearts and Hibs would be able to take advantage of having superior numbers far more effectively than part-time clubs in lower leagues could.

Among those who would like to see Mohsni learn how to control his emotions is young Rangers ace Fraser Aird.

The midfielder, who has now completed his return from the knee injury he sustained on the summer tour of the USA and Canada, feels the 6ft 3in defender has much to contribute to the League One champs in many areas of the field.

"Big Bilel has been brilliant for us," Aird said. "He was good last year and hopefully he will be good again this year.

"I am sure he can put what happened today behind him and look ahead to the future."

AIRD admitted that the loss of Mohsni put paid to any hopes Rangers had of mounting a comeback.

"It was hard enough against them with a full team," he said. "When we went down to ten they kept the ball away from us. It put them on easy street.

"At the end of the day, you need to keep everyone on the park to win games."

Aird squandered a chance to net after 14 minutes when he headed a Kenny Miller cross wide of the Derby goal from just a few yards out.

But the gulf in class between Rangers and Steve McLaren's side - who narrowly missed out on promotion to the Barclays Premier League in last season's play-off final - was evident to every one of the 10,000-strong travelling support.

"Derby were good," Aird said. "To be honest, I don't think we will play anyone as good as them this season.

"They were a lot sharper on the ball and moved it about well. They played a lot of one and two-touch stuff and did not hang about in possession.

"That is the level we should aspire to. That level and even higher if possible.

"Playing against teams like this is always tough. It showed us where we want to go.

"We'll go away and work on a few things and hopefully bring them into our game."

Despite Saturday's defeat Aird feels the Rangers squad are in good shape for the start of the new season.

"We could have done a lot better against Derby," he said. "I had a good chance and we had chances from corners.

"We are ready and looking forward to the season proper starting on Tuesday night.

"All the boys are sharp. The lads who have come in this summer have got games under their belt and they look ready.

"They are fitting into the gaffer's system. Now we want to put in a good performance to kick off our season.

"The games we have coming up against the bigger teams are the ones you want to play in. Both Hibs and Hearts have lost a few players but they have also brought in some.

"They will be good sides but I'm confident in our team.

"We are looking forward to these games and hopefully we can get the results we want."

Football

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