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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Cuellar winning race to face Sporting

Rangers assistant boss Ally McCoist expects defender Carlos Cuellar to be fully recovered from illness for Thursday's UEFA Cup clash against Sporting Lisbon.

The Spaniard was ordered to rest after playing through a virus in Sunday's 3-3 Clydesdale Bank Premier League draw at Dundee United, when he scored an own goal.

But he has made the journey to Portugal for the second leg of the quarter-final and McCoist expects no fitness problems.

'I'm very pleased,' the former Ibrox striker said. 'To be honest there was a bigger chance of him missing the Dundee United game on Sunday but he managed to play and that says a lot about him.

'He was struggling at the weekend but he is a lot better now. He is a big player for us and hopefully he will be a big player again on Thursday night.'

Daniel Cousin could also feature after recovering from the broken jaw he suffered during the first leg of the previous round against Werder Bremen.

'He has certainly got a chance,' McCoist said before the squad boarded their flight at Glasgow Airport. 'The surgeon who performed the operation looked him over at the weekend and gave him the go-ahead, so he is fit to play.'

With Rangers favourites to scoop a domestic treble, McCoist feels the pressure is off the team as they bid to reach the last four of a European competition for the first time in 36 years.

The Gers will go through with a score draw following a goalless first leg at Ibrox last week.

McCoist said: 'We are at the business end of the season now but there is no more expectation on us for this competition. We are just enjoying the ride in all competitions.

'I think it will be a tight game. Looking at the Sporting Lisbon team, there is not a lot between the two sides. There is probably not a lot between all eight teams left in the competition.

'Hopefully we can get the all-important away goal.'

Meanwhile, striker Jean-Claude Darcheville is interested in discussing a new deal that will keep him at Rangers until he retires, according to his agent.

The 32-year-old has a year to run on his contract after arriving from Bordeaux on a free transfer last summer.

'There have been clubs in England, France and Spain contacting me with a view to signing Jean-Claude in the summer,' agent Karim Djaziri said.

'I told Jean-Claude about this interest but he isn't the slightest bit moved by it all. All he wants to do is stay at Rangers and finish his career there.

'It's now down to the Rangers directors over what they want to do, but we want to talk to them about the prospect of a new, longer-term deal to keep Jean-Claude there until he finishes playing football.'