Unfamiliar Rangers pairing can enjoy being centre of attention, says Bell

CAMMY Bell today insisted Rangers can cope with the loss of their two first-choice centre-backs and keep their unbeaten run going in SPFL League One.

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Cammy Bell has faith in his defence to hold firm while McCulloch and Mohsni drop out
Cammy Bell has faith in his defence to hold firm while McCulloch and Mohsni drop out

The Ibrox club will be without both Lee McCulloch and Bilel Mohsni for their match against Ayr United at Somerset Park this Saturday.

Gers captain McCulloch picked up a one-match suspension when he received his fifth booking of the 2013/14 campaign against Brechin earlier this month.

And Mohsni will miss the meetings away to the Honest Men and Stenhousemuir at home the following week after being stupidly ordered off in that 2-0 triumph.

The loss of both men is a blow to Rangers manager Ally McCoist as they have formed a rock-solid partnership in the centre of the rearguard.

McCoist has a huge decision to make about who to select instead of McCulloch and Mohsni, who have played 23 games together this season for the Light Blues.

But the chances are Sebastien Faure will be moved across from right-back and Brazilian defender Emilson Cribari will be brought back into the fold.

Bell, though, is still confident Rangers, who have won 22 games and drawn just one game in the third tier this season, can overcome Mark Roberts' charges.

He said: "We have a quality squad of players at Rangers and good competition for places in every position. It keeps everyone on their toes.

"Whoever comes into the side will do a good job for us as they have a point to prove to the manager. They want to show they deserve to be starting every week.

"You saw that a few weeks ago when Steve (reserve keeper Simonsen) came into the side for the match against Forfar. He had a fantastic match and made some great saves.

"It is good for you to have that sort of pressure on you. You know if your standards drop there is a good player waiting to take your place.

"Playing Ayr away will not be easy. They gave us a good game down there earlier this season. But I am sure that whoever comes in will be able to help us maintain our winning run."

The clean sheet Rangers kept in the 4-0 victory over Dunfermline in the William Hill Scottish Cup at Ibrox this month was their 22nd this season across all competitions.

They still have some way to go to equal the Glasgow club's all-time shut out record.

In the 2007/08 season, when Rangers reached the Uefa Cup Final in Manchester, Walter Smith's side successfully repelled their opponents on no fewer than 35 occasions.

That remarkable tally included 12 clean sheets in Europe; they had six in the Champions League and six in the Uefa Cup that term.

They would also have to not concede a goal in any of their 13 remaining League One matches to beat their record for shut-outs in the league.

They have 15 in the third tier so far - and they recorded 27 in the 1986/87 season after Graeme Souness had taken charge of the team.

Nevertheless, the displays of the backline has definitely underpinned the success the Govan club has enjoyed in all competitions.

The fact that Rangers are a full-time professional club playing against part-time opponents in the third tier of Scottish football has been an obvious factor in their success.

However, Bell revealed that hard work on the training ground at Murray Park has also been responsible for their form at the back.

THE Rangers goalkeeper said: "We look at every goal that we lose as well as every goal that we score, in training every week.

"We do a lot of video analysis with the gaffer after games as well. We sit down and look at what we do right and what we have done wrong.

"We look at areas where we can improve. We do not sit back and get complacent. We want to get better.

"We know our performances against Arbroath a couple of weeks ago and against Brechin last week were not good enough defensively.

"Don't get me wrong, both Arbroath and Brechin played very well against us. But we were badly positioned at times and we also made individual errors which cost us.

"Video analysis plays such an important part in the game these days and we do a lot of it. We are constantly striving to improve and always will do.

"We really had to dig in and get the result that we were looking for against Arbroath and Brechin. But we managed to do that.

"We didn't make any mistakes at the back against Dunfermline and managed to keep a clean sheet.

"We will be looking to do that again against Ayr and extend our unbeaten run in the league between now and the end of the season."

Football

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