Rangers ace tipped to beat Shankland to award as ‘Plan B’ option emerges for Premiership fixture

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Here is a round up of the latest major news stories across the SPFL involving Hearts and Hibs rivals.

Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd does not believe that Hearts star Lawrence Shankland deserves to win the Scottish Premiership Player of the Year award, although he did admit that he is a worthy contender.

Shankland is the division’s leading goalscorer with 21 goals from 32 appearances. He has been Heart’s standout player in an impressive season which has seen the capital side firmly establish themselves as the best team outside of the Old Firm this season.

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Such form has made the 28-year-old a shoo-in for Scotland’s Euro 2024 squad in the summer, with Boyd claiming that the debate now no longer lays on whether he makes Scotland’s Euros squad, but whether he starts.

Boyd, who scored seven times for Scotland in 18 caps, was full of praise for Shankland and admitted that he would be very unlucky to miss out on the award. He also explained that Jambos manager Steven Naismith deserves a mention when considering the Manager of the Season award.

He told the Scottish Sun: “Shankland will finish the season with 30-plus goals and could land a massive move this summer. Hearts, in general, have had a terrific campaign and it feels like they have had third place sealed for months.

“Steven Naismith had to fight through a rocky spell early in the season, but his work has been outstanding.

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“If he can finish it all off by lifting the Scottish Cup, he would have a strong claim for the top manager prize.”

Boyd claimed that there are four obvious contenders for the Player of the Season award with Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland and Celtic’s Matt O’Riley also getting a mention.

But in the end the two-time title winner settled on James Tavernier as the outstanding candidate for the award, adding that the right back deserves to win it regardless of the final outcome in the title race.

He explained: “Fans, players and managers will make strong cases for all of them.But Tav is ahead of the rest in terms of his consistency and his contribution to the Rangers team.

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“His overall importance to the club, season after season, cannot be downplayed.

“Week after week, he churns out big performances and weighs in with important strikes.His record is incredible. It’s not normal for right-backs to bag 23 in a season — and counting.

“Tavernier broke the all-time British scoring record for a defender recently and there will be more to come.

His penalty against Celtic last Sunday was another crucial moment from him. But it’s also his goals from open play and his ability to step up when Rangers have needed him that stand out.”

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Dundee vs Rangers Plan B option emerges if Dens Park is unplayable

Rangers will look to bounce back from their shock defeat to Ross County when they travel to face sixth place Dundee.

The encounter has been called off on two separate occasions within a matter of weeks due to a waterlogged playing surface and that has led the Dark Blues to face a huge amount of criticism for seeing FIVE games postponed this season, with the club now facing SPFL disciplinary action. 

The Courier understands that McDiarmid Park is the back-up venue option that will stage the fixture if their Tayside rivals are unable to get the match on. 

The report also adds that Dundee have held talks with other club over the last couple of days, but have reached an agreement with St Johnstone to play the final outstanding top-flight game before the split with fans present in the stadium should that be required.

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Dundee’s ongoing drainage problems led the Ibrox side to accuse their counterparts of “negligence and unprofessionalism” in a firmly-worded statement last weekend. However, they have refused to be drawn into a war of words with the Light Blues.

Dees club secretary Eric Drysdale pointed to the impact of “climate change” as the reason behind their unfortunate luck with home fixture postponements. 

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: “I can understand that people are annoyed and are looking at this as being Dundee’s fault.

“What I would say is that, from the research that we’ve done in the last few days, we note that this year’s rainfall is 35 per cent higher than the last 10 years’ average. That shows the effects that climate change is having on it and it appears we need to urgently do more work on the Dens Park pitch and we are absolutely up for doing that in the summer.”

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Dundee are sixth in the Premiership and were beaten 5-0 the last time that they hosted Rangers back in November. 

They also suffered a 3-1 defeat at Ibrox the following month in December. Rangers are second and trail Celtic by four points, but still have one game in hand to increase the pressure on the defending champions.

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