LEE WALLACE will look to stake a claim for an Old Firm starting spot when he returns to action for Rangers on Tuesday.

The left-back hasn’t played for the Light Blues since being forced off in the Premiership draw with Partick Thistle in September.

Wallace went under the knife to cure a groin problem before also having surgery on a double-hernia as he has been consigned to several months on the sidelines.

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But he now has a chance to catch Graeme Murty’s eye as he gets set to turn out in a behind-closed-door bounce game at the Rangers Football Centre.

And the Ibrox boss admits his captain could be in contention for Sunday’s showdown with Celtic if he comes through the match unscathed.

Murty said: “We will see. We will see how it goes through.

“I know what it is like after being out long-term. You come back in and you feel good and you train really well but it is completely different in a match.

“Sometimes you run around and you feel you have got lungs that are a quarter of the size they used to be, just because you are not used to the stimulus of a matchday and not used to the intensity of it.

“Let’s not forget that his heart rate, and all the players’ heart rates, will be at 75 per cent of their max for 90 minutes and it is really hard to replicate that, no matter how hard you train, because we can’t actually get that stimulus into every single player.

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“Lee needs something specifically different to the rest of the players that have been training for that time when he has been out and having that stimulus at the end of the week.

“He hasn’t been having that but this is our way of trying to introduce that to him and make sure that he comes through it OK.

“We will judge it after the game. We will make sure he plays, we recover him properly and then we will see how he is feeling after that.”

Declan John has deputised for Wallace for most of the campaign and has become an integral part of Murty’s plans in recent months.

His form for the Light Blues was rewarded with a new deal at Ibrox as he made his loan switch from Cardiff City permanent and put pen-to-paper on a three-and-a-half year contract.

But he has missed the wins over St Johnstone and Falkirk in recent days after sustaining a groin injury in training last week.

Murty is hopeful that John will be fit to start against Celtic at Ibrox and he has praised stand-in full-back Andy Halliday for his efforts against the Saints and Bairns.

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He told RangersTV: “Yes I am hopeful of having a fit left-back for Sunday.

“He was a miss I thought but the opportunity for Andy Halliday to come into the team, in a position that is not his own, is something he took with both hands in the two games he has played.

“I have been really impressed with his attitude and he hasn’t let anyone down at all.

“I would really like to praise his professionalism since he has come back and he is someone that we brought back into the group to try and push and culture up, to try and make sure people understand what it means to represent Rangers at the highest level.

“He understands that and he wants the standards within the group to be at the highest and that is something he deserves credit for.”