By George Overhill

1st May, 2022 | 10:10am

Derek McInnes warns Rangers of Europa League 'damage' from Celtic clash

Derek McInnes has dismissed any suggestion that Rangers should field a weakened side against Celtic due to the “damage” a loss could do.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are at the halfway stage of their Europa League semi final against RB Leipzig, ahead of the Ibrox return this week (5 May).

But despite injury problems already hampering the side, the Kilmarnock boss has warned against taking the Old Firm derby lightly as he knows that the risk of an injury is outweighed by the risk of a demoralising defeat.

The former Ger wrote in the Mail on Sunday column, via the Daily Record: “Europe is now the priority in so many people’s eyes. But that’s precisely why he needs to send out a strong team to try to win at Parkhead.

“Rangers won’t want to go into the second leg against Leipzig on the back of two defeats.

“And as a Rangers player, any defeat to Celtic lingers heavy. It damages you.

“Domestically, Celtic will see this as their chance to finish off Rangers. It’s an opportunity to win the league and beat their biggest rivals at the same time.

“But they too need to show that they have learned from Hampden.”

All in

Injuries to Kemar Roofe and Aaron Ramsey coming out of the previous Old Firm meeting at Hampden Park may well tempt the Light Blues boss to rotate.

The Dutchman is stuck between a rock and a hard place on what to do with his team selection today.

If he fields a strong line-up then he will hope it is capable of replicating the cup semi-final victory, and the squad take considerable momentum into the Leipzig return.

But if he does that he risks more key players being unavailable, although the other two hope to return in midweek, and could lose the game anyway.

The extra-time victory over the Hoops in the previous meeting has given him some capital, but he must know that three consecutive league losses against them would be a major blot on his record.

If he sacrifices an Old Firm derby on the way to that record then it will be all the worse, especially with the slimmest of chances that a win could spark a late slip up from the leaders for the title.

He has to take the risk the same way he would have to if the league positions were reverse, and hope for no negative consequences.

In other Rangers news, Ange Postecoglou wasn’t satisfied with the idea that his side was being shown the way in Europe by Gers.