The Scottish Premier League have re-arranged three out of the four outstanding games that Rangers have to contest before the league splits into half for the last five games of the season.
Perhaps the most surprising fixture is when Rangers travel to Perth to face St Johnstone, with an unusual 6.00pm kick-off on Tuesday April 5th. Celtic have been given the same kick-off time at McDiarmid Park when they visit a week later.
Due to UEFA regulations, matches cannot be televised at the same time as a UEFA Champions League is taking place, hence the SPL’s decision to move it back to 6.00.
After a visit to Hamilton Accies on the Sunday, Walter Smith will face a third away trip in a row when they are up against Aberdeen on the Wednesday night with a 7.45pm kick-off.
And the next Saturday the reigning Champions will host St Mirren at Ibrox Stadium on Scottish Cup semi-final weekend. As both teams are out the competition, the SPL arranged the fixture for the Saturday after a frozen pipe called the game off in December.
There is only one outstanding game left to be re-arranged, and that is the Tannadice fixture. Dundee United versus Rangers was originally postponed on the 28th of November and then again on December 21st due to wintry conditions in Tayside. The midweek before the split fixtures begin is likely to be when this game is re-arranged for.
The fixture congestion of 2007/2008 has been averted due to Rangers being knocked out the Europa League by PSV Eindhoven and the Scottish Cup by Celtic. However, it will still be a heavy schedule for a small squad that Smith has at his disposal.
The possibility of a return to the squad for Kirk Broadfoot and Jamie Ness in the Dundee United home fixture on April 2nd is a big boost for Rangers considering the unknown extent of the injury Madjid Bougherra picked up at Hampden Park on Sunday, and Lee McCulloch’s fast progess from a serious injury.
Confidence is high in the Gers camp after a superb 2-1 victory over bitter rivals Celtic in the League Cup final on Sunday, and they now focus on the competition that matters the most – the Scottish league title.