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Rangers travel up to Leeds today without a fit professional goalkeeper.

Ian Holloway has stayed behind at Loftus Road in the hope of signing a keeper on loan as the move would come under the ‘emergency loan crisis’ which permits clubs to sign players in exceptional circumstances- such as the goalkeeping crisis.

Simon Royce, Rangers’ number one has been troubled by an abdomen problem and is rated ‘highly unlikely’ by Prav Mathema and the Rangers medical team. Royce had an operation to cure the problem a few years ago but it seems he has aggravated the injury in training after Tuesday night’s defeat against Leicester.

The only other professional goalkeeper at the club, Jake Cole is also out of action after tearing ankle ligaments. He is now back up to running speed but is still a few weeks of a first team return. Cole was also hit with a three game ban by the F.A. after an investigation into the brawl at Stoke City brought about by a home supporter attacking Royce after Rangers’ win at the Brittania Stadium.

Sean Thomas a youth team goalkeeper signed from Arsenal last season has travelled with the squad and at the moment is in line to start between the sticks if Ollie cannot find a replacement. It will be Thomas’ debut for the R’s at a ground where the Hoops were smashed 6-1 last season by promotion hopefuls Leeds United.

Ollie is talking to Paul Jones who has recently been released from Wolves and enjoyed a successful spell at Southampton. Jones (38) is thought to want a longer contract than a pay-as-you-play deal which is likely to be offer for the veteran stopper.

Elsewhere, Matthew Rose is struggling to be fit after he complained of a sore back after Tuesday’s defeat. The Leeds fixture may be given a miss if he does not recover in time due to his poor medical background.

Young loan signing Andy Taylor may be in line to make his full debut at left-back for Rangers should Rose not feature.

Loan signings Leon Clarke, Marcin Kus, Keith Lowe and Sammy Youssouf are all pushing for starting berths in the team following the poor performance on Tuesday. Mauro Milanese, Ian Evatt and Stefan Moore have all travelled and may be considered should Ollie feel necessary.

Continuing on the injury front, Marc Bircham is back in training but will not be risked. He will play in the reserve fixture on Tuesday and following another full week in training is looking to make a return in the home derby clash with Millwall.

Martin Rowlands has been ill all week and will therefore miss the trip to Elland Road, he is recovering well and should there be no hiccups in training next week, he will also be looking at Millwall as his possible return date.

Tommy Doherty has been back in training and continues to work on his fitness following his broken leg. His injury has completed healed and he is now concentrating on his speed and strength before a return date is set.

Kevin Gallen is now up to running at 80-90%. His problem is improving and the outlook is much more positive but like Doherty no return date has been set.

Finally, Dominic Shimmin is running again after tearing his groin. The club are now waiting for final scans to confirm that he is free to return to full training.

Standby for our exclusive question and answer with a loyal Leeds fan ahead of tomorrows clash.

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Writer:
Date:Friday February 3 2006
Time: 12:53PM

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