Barry Ferguson asks Rangers stars favour before Celtic clash as he rejects clear-out mindset

Barry Ferguson has rejected the notion that Rangers' stars may already have one nervy eye on Philippe Clement's summer clear-out before the Scottish Cup Final vs Celtic.

The manager has big plans for next season and that includes bringing in a host of new players and ditching the deadwood he feels have come to the end of their cycle at the club. Clement chose midweek to explain his feelings on the overhaul at Ibrox and that was questioned by some when it came to the timing before the Hampden showpiece later this afternoon.

But Ferguson, writing in his Daily Record column, dismissed any potential worries over the squad not turning up on the day down to the niggling worry about their futures in the back of their minds. Their professionalism, Fergie says, shouldn't allow them.

"I'll have the proud honour of representing Rangers this afternoon by carrying the Scottish Cup out onto the pitch at Hampden shortly before kick-off," he said.

"Knowing the way my mind works when the adrenaline hits on derby day I’ll probably end up eyeballing Mikael Lustig who’s doing the same job for Celtic all the way to the centre circle. And then I’ll head back up the tunnel and ask for a favour from the guys who will be walking out the other way, wearing those blue shirts on cup final day ‘Whatever you do today guys, make sure you bring that thing back with you to Ibrox!’.

"It’s hard to believe it’s been 22 years since the last Old Firm showpiece in this competition and I have to say, to this day, it’s my favourite ever. I’ve been lucky enough to have played in some unbelievable games but every time I think about that day it just brings a smile to my face. We were up against our fiercest rivals and a Celtic side packed with quality. I was playing for a team packed with every bit as much.

"And most importantly of all, we won it. It was like someone had written the perfect ending to the perfect script. And that’s what I want these Rangers players to experience for themselves. The suspicion seems to be that too many of them have already checked out. That they know there’s a clearout coming in the summer and that they’ve already got one eye on what comes next.

"I’m sorry but I refuse to buy that. Not for a single minute. I would imagine, as professionals, these guys will be absolutely bursting to get out there and prove their critics wrong. Yes, there’s a duty to do it for the club and for the fans but you’ve also got to want to do it for yourself. There has to be that selfish streak and a sense of inner pride.

"I just can’t believe any player would go into an occasion as big as this one without wanting to make their mark on it and go home with a winners’ medal around their neck.

"If you don’t feel like that then why did you bother playing football in the first place? What happens next, when the transfer window opens, makes no difference. All that matters on a day like this is to leave that place with your head held high and with another piece of silverware to put in the cabinet.

"The question is - and it’s one I’ve been asked all week by my fellow supporters - is: How exactly are they going to do it? Well, first and foremost they have to start the game properly because that’s simply not been the case in the last two derbies. I’ve played in enough of these games to know how it works. The first 20 minutes are hell for leather. There’s hardly time to breathe let alone think your way through it.

"The key to surviving is to keep things simple inside your own head. Win your first tackle. Win your first header. Find a team mate with your first pass. Whatever it is, just make sure you’re on point.

"If these players want to enjoy their summer and give the fans something to celebrate then that’s the way they have to go about it. If they start well then they’ve got a real good chance of winning it. Let’s be honest, people are questioning their mentality and that would be eating me alive if I was in that dressing room. I’d be so determined to try to put that right.

"You’re in a cup final, representing an unbelievable football club. Half of that stadium is on your side and hundreds of thousands around the world are sitting down to watch you on TV. How would you not want to be the main man? These are the moments you’ve worked so hard for throughout your whole career. I wish I was out there with them. But my time has come and gone.

"My job will be to walk that trophy out into the centre circle before kick-off. It’s up to them to bring it home."