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Chilled players will not freeze, says Houston

Peter Houston, the Falkirk manager, has dismissed suggestions his young side could be overawed when they face Rangers tomorrow night.

Alan Maybury is expected  to continue  in defence  for Falkirk as Kieran Duffie recovers from injury
Alan Maybury is expected to continue in defence for Falkirk as Kieran Duffie recovers from injury

Houston's players will host the Ibrox side in the second round of SPFL Championship fixtures, before then playing Hibernian and Hearts in their subsequent matches.

It is a galling sequence of fixtures for a team which continues to rely heavily on a crop of exciting young players, not least since Falkirk were only able to draw in their opening league game against Cowdenbeath.

Houston is acutely aware that Rangers will still be smarting after losing to Hearts at Ibrox at the weekend too. However, he is confident that his side will not prove their resolve when Rangers visit in front of the television cameras.

"It's absolutely fantastic and the town is buzzing for it - it's going to be a full house for Falkirk," said Houston. "It's going to be a very difficult game, Rangers lost on Sunday and we had a 2-2 draw at Cowdenbeath.

"It's so exciting, our next three games are Rangers at home, Hibs away and Hearts away. It's a very tough fixture list but that's what our young players should want to play in. We should go with no fear and should try pass that ball.

"If you go to Ibrox and run out and there are 43,000 fans like there were the other day, some young players could freeze. I don't think we will to be perfectly honest because the boys that are playing now in our first team that are only 18 and 19 already have about 100 first-team games experience in the team.

"You just hope they don't freeze and that they show they are good football players. Rangers will always be regarded as a massive club with a big reputation but it sometimes makes young players want to do even better."

The elder members of the squad are no different. Alan Maybury is now 36 and acknowledges that his primary role at Falkirk is to act as a mentor to his more callow team-mates, as well as coaching the club's under-20s side. However, having started the first three competitive matches of Houston's reign - and with Kieran Duffie ruled out due to an injury - Maybury is expected to have Rangers to worry about tomorrow night, too.

"I've had one or two tussles with Rangers over the years, with varying success," said the Irishman. "But they all count for nothing when we go on Friday night. They're great games to play in and they'll bring a great crowd; they'll turn up - the fans certainly- expecting to win.

"It's important we do what we do and play, and that these young boys, who are possibly and probably going on to greater things, hopefully, go and play and show themselves. What they do at Falkirk is they give them a chance in the first team. Boys that have moved on recently have had 100 to 150 games, which gives them a great advantage.

"But there are lots of little bits that were drilled into me as a young player that I can hopefully pass on to some of them, and if they can add them then they can go on to become top players."

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