Brechin give Rangers a scare in Challenge Cup
RANGERS have been given an early warning about the difficulty of life in the Scottish lower divisions after requiring extra-time to record a 2-1 victory away to Brechin in the first round of the Challenge Cup on Sunday.
A strong Rangers team was named, including wantaway centre-backs Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra and Scottish internationals Neil Alexander, Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch and Kirk Broadfoot but any punters who backed the Glasgow giants to win inside normal time at pre-match odds of 2-7 will have had their fingers burned.
McCulloch struck the killer blow in the first period of extra-time but it was an unconvincing performance from Ally McCoist's men, who are scheduled to kick off their Scottish Division Three campaign with an away fixture at Peterhead on August 11.
Dundee United have been identified as the second strongest team in the SPL but even they have been handed a 26-point head start over Celtic by BetVictor in a handicap market which offers 9-1 about each of the 12 teams.
Newly-promoted duo Ross County and Dundee have been given handicap points advantages of 50 and 54, while Scottish Cup holders Hearts get a 30-point lead.
Portsmouth's efforts to avoid liquidation have resulted in the departure of striker Erik Huseklepp to Norwegian side SK Brann. Huseklepp's transfer leaves Pompey with just four senior players left on their books.
Former England midfielder Owen Hargreaves has been training with QPR as he bids to revive his injury-ravaged career.
Arsene Wenger has revealed that Arsenal's injury-hit midfielder Jack Wilshere will remain sidelined until October.
It means the 20-year-old, who has not played a competitive game for over 12 months, is ruled out of England's opening two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, which take place in early September.
Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by Hong Kong club side Kitchee on Sunday, while West Ham also drew 2-2 at Energie Cottbus.
The Irons need to tighten up at the back but could be helped by the likely arrival of 27-year-old Real Mallorca defender Ivan Ramis, who is heading to east London for talks after terms were agreed between the clubs.