Andersen dilemma for Ibrox boss Smith
PHIL GORDON in Glasgow
RANGERS' supporters may now question Sebastian Rozenthal's right to an immediate debut against Motherwell tomorrow after yet another impressive display from the man who is supposed to be only keeping the place warm for him, Erik Bo Andersen.
Chilean hitman Rozenthal's baptism for the Scottish champions has been delayed since his GBP3 million transfer three weeks ago but now he has joined up with his new teammates after being on international duty against Peru last week and his opening bow is eagerly awaited.
Fir Park should provide that stage.
However, Danish sizzler Andersen, who voiced his intention to leave Rangers earlier in the season, has found his feet in stunning style in recent weeks, destroying first Celtic and most recently Aberdeen.
The striker took his tally for the season to 11 goals - in just seven starts - with a deadly double to sink the Dons last Sunday and is starting to win over an Ibrox support that had written him off as a joke because of some glaring misses since his GBP1.7 million transfer from Aalborg a year ago.
Now the Dane is begging for a chance not to be cast aside for Rozenthal, saying: 'I'm confident that if I get a run I'll always score and it's very nice to be a part of this squad.
'The team always creates chances and I'm working hard to score a lot of goals that will help me keep my place. But I'm very happy at the moment.' Andersen believes the blunderman tag was thrust on him unfairly.
'Sure, I might have scored a few goals more, but as a striker you are always going to get opportunities at Rangers. So I know that if I miss I am going to get another chance.' However, Ibrox boss Walter Smith insists he never doubted Andersen's ability and said from the outset that the Danish international would need time to adjust to the surroundings of the Premier Division.
'I'm very pleased with him. He has 11 in seven starts this season and six in six games last season - a very good rate by anyone's standards.' Almost as impressive as Rozenthal, who grabbed 24 in just 30 games last season in South America.
And the 20-year-old, who was paraded to the Ibrox fans before the New Year clash with Celtic, admits he can't wait to get on a blue jersey.
'I've watched a lot of videos and kept up to date with Rangers. Now I can't wait to start playing,' the Chilean said.
'Some people in Chile said to me that Rangers would be a good step before moving on to a bigger club in the future - I don't see it like that.
'Rangers are an excellent side and I want to stay here for a long time and play in the Champions' League.' Celtic have refused to allow the title to slip any further from their grasp since their 3-1 defeat at Ibrox a fortnight ago.
Twelve points from four games, with 13 goals into the bargain, has kept their slim hopes alive.
And the key figure in that run is striker Jorge Cadete, who has bagged 11 goals in his last six games to make him the country's top marksman with 20 goals all told.
The Portuguese star will be the number one dangerman to Hibs at Parkhead tomorrow.
Cadete dumped Edinburgh's other club, Hearts, with a lethal double last weekend, but refuses to hog the limelight.
'Football is not about individuals and I don't think about how many goals I can score - only about getting the three points,' added Cadete.
'I work hard in training every week so that if a chance comes I'm ready for it. But it is more important for the team to score than for Jorge Cadete.
'But at the moment every game is like a Cup Final for us - we can't afford any more slip-ups.
'Rangers are of course in control of things and we have to hope that other teams give us a helping hand when they play against them but at the same time we must keep getting the right results.
'We know that one defeat could end it all and we have to give 101 per cent.' Elsewhere, troubled Aberdeen - no wins in seven games - make the trip to bottom club Raith Rovers as they bid to get their season back on track.
Roy Aitken's recent annoyance towards his experienced stars made little difference at Ibrox last weekend as they slumped to a 4-0 defeat but Aitken has admitted that he has seen an improvement in their level of commitment.
'I'm convinced that we will bounce back from our little slump stronger and more determined.
'But the challenge is still ahead of this club and I will make changes when I think it is right to do so.'