Ally McCoist appeals against ban for Old Firm clash with Neil Lennon

Ally McCoist appeals against ban for Old Firm clash with Neil LennonThe Rangers assistant manager, Ally McCoist, has appealed against the two-match touchline ban imposed for the confrontation with Neil Lennon at the end of the fiery Old Firm match on 2 March, which Celtic won 1-0.

The Scottish FA last week found the duo guilty of misconduct and handed out two and four-game bans respectively. Lennon's penalty was stiffer as it was for a second offence within a two-year period.

McCoist believes he did nothing to merit that punishment, with Rangers submitting an appeal before Wednesday's 5pm deadline. So he is set to remain in the dugout for Sunday's League Cup final, also against Celtic, at Hampden Park.

Lennon was to watch from the stands for that match anyway, as he is serving a four-match touchline ban for a separate offence. Celtic have a concern over the implementation of his Old Firm punishment because they think the bans should run concurrently, and that matter may rise in prominence in the coming days. If Celtic's challenge on that front fails Lennon will spend most of the remainder of the Scottish campaign away from the dugout.

Celtic said in a statement: "In accordance with the SFA's disciplinary procedures and the SFA's original intimation of the ban issued on March 9, Neil will be serving this suspension concurrently with his existing suspension." That, however, is not the view of the governing body, which believes the bans should run consecutively.

McCoist's attentions on Thursday night will be on his team's attempts to progress to the last eight of the Europa League. Rangers held PSV Eindhoven to a scoreless draw in the Netherlands last week, with the manager, Walter Smith, promising an attacking approach at home.

Smith has a dilemma, then, over whether or not to start Steven Naismith against PSV. The attacker has only just recovered from a hamstring problem; with Sunday's final looming, Smith admits Naismith won't be able to handle consecutive full games. "The balance is whether it's the right game to bring him back," said the Rangers manager.

"I don't think it's a worry bringing him back, he is fit, we made sure the problem that he's had has cleared up. The problem is having the Thursday night game and then the cup final on the Sunday. It's which game we feel we can get the benefit from him.

"I don't think it will be possible for him to play in both. We have to give a thought to Sunday's game as well, it's a big game for us.

"We are trying to do as well as we can in each tournament so we need to try to achieve the right balance in the amount of playing time he'll get over both games."

Rangers (possible, 5-4-1): McGregor; Foster, Bougherra, Weir, Bartley, Papac; Whittaker, Davis, Edu, Lafferty; Diouf.

Powered by article was written by Ewan Murray, for on Wednesday 16th March 2011 22.26 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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