By Danny Wright
Pedro Caixinha has challenged his Scottish Rangers players to fight for a place in the national team to potentially feature in the World Cup next summer.
Gordon Strachan’s side are within a whisker of a potential spot in the European qualifier play-offs after back-to-back wins over Lithuania and Malta in the past few days – but they did so without a single Gers player in the squad after the Tartan Army snubbed calling any of them up.
Ibrox’s domestic stars boast 27 international caps between them through Danny Wilson, Lee Wallace and Graham Dorrans, and although there is a much more foreign-feel about Rangers since Caixinha took charge, he has still thrown down the gauntlet for them to play in Russia next summer.
“Rangers needs to have not only players in those national teams but also we want to have players in the Scottish national team,” said Caixinha, as quoted by BBC Sport.
“It’s one of the goals from us. We know they are doing well and we expect them at least to make the play-offs and we want to have a contribution from our players in that run.”
He added: “It is important for our players when they go there that they receive minutes.
“It is also important for our players, when they go there, that the national teams are fighting to be present in the great competitions of the world – and what better than a World Cup?
Caixinha’s comments come as a bit of a surprise due to his own reluctance to name Scottish players in his matchday squad.
Four of his 11 starters in the last league game against Ross County were based domestically while the rest of his squad saw nationalities from all over the world play a role.
Rangers have two players that have really good chances of playing in the World Cup next year in Lee Hodson of Northern Ireland and Bruno Alves of Portugal, however the former’s form for club has been questionable as of late.
In other Rangers news, Tommy Wright has ripped Caixinha to shreds because of his summer recruitment policy.