NEWCASTLE United’s loans to Rangers have come under fresh scrutiny – after Ibrox manager Kenny McDowall said he’d been ordered to play them.
Haris Vuckic, Gael Bigiriaman, Remie Streete, Shane Ferguson and Kevin Mbabu signed for the club on transfer deadline day. Ferguson and Mbabu, however, are injured and are yet to travel to Glasgow.
The quintet were secured on half-season loans by former Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias, Rangers’ chief executive officer.
Llambias, however, denied the club’s board was influencing team selection.
“There’s no way the board is picking the team,” said Llambias.
“In any loan, the players bolster the side and give the squad more depth.
“That’s exactly what is happening here.”
The decision to loan the five players to the Scottish Championship club, in which United owner Mike Ashley has a 8.92 per cent stake, has raised questions north of the border, where the billionaire faces a Scottish Football Association disciplinary hearing over his dual interest in Newcastle and Rangers.
And McDowall’s admission that he was duty-bound to play them has angered many Rangers fans.
However, McDowall insists he has no issues with the arrangement.
“On Monday night I got a call from Derek saying he had secured five players on loan,” said McDowall.
“Three of them arrived and two of them will be coming the next three or four weeks – they are injured.
“When I was given the job I was told players incoming and outgoing wouldn’t be my responsibility. I take the team and coach the team, and I’m more than happy to get on with it.”
Asked if he had to play them, he said: “Yes.”
McDowall, speaking at a Press conference ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup fifth-round tie against Raith Rovers, was then asked if he had to play every one of them every week. He added: “Yes.
“They are obviously good players – they play for Newcastle – but I will carry on and do what I am told to do.”
Bigirimana and Vuckic could make their Rangers debuts against Raith Rovers. Streete, from South Shields, returned to training yesterday after recovering from a groin problem, and could be available for the game.