PEDRO CAIXINHA believes Bruno Alves is making a good recovery from the calf injury which ruled him out of Saturday’s Old Firm fixture at Ibrox Stadium.

And the manager is keeping his fingers crossed the experienced defender will be fit and able to return to his squad for Rangers’ Friday night Premiership showdown against Hamilton Accies.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference at The Rangers Training Centre this afternoon, Caixinha said: “Bruno after the three days he spent in Madrid, he arrived in very, very good condition, much better than he left, so he is still with the physios trying to recover.

We think it is still possible (he plays on Friday) but we need to check and keep assessing.”

Welsh left-back Declan John also spoke to the press today after he was cleared to return to action on Friday having had a thigh problem which forced him to miss the Glasgow derby.

Caixinha was upbeat when looking ahead to the 90 minutes coming up this week at Accies’ SuperSeal Stadium and he was quick to defend midfielder Carlos Pena when asked if the decision to take the Mexican off after 53 minutes against Celtic was because he was struggling with the pace of the game.

He responded: “Decisions and the restriction of space and time have nothing to do with fitness.

“I can show you the data which we have on a daily basis, and the data basically goes for the total distance covered, that’s one point, and you also have the high intensity runs that the players do in each one of the sessions.

I can tell you that since a long time from now Carlos is in the top three of that list.”

The manager also denied reports that he criticised Pena after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat.

He added: “You can take your old tapes since day one until this day and you are not going to watch me saying one thing in one moment and saying another thing in another one.

“When I was young the boys used to call me elephant, you know why? Because elephants have a great memory and I have a great memory, so I know exactly what I say in each one of the moments.

“I can tell you when we took the team pic back at Ibrox, that was that discussion (about Carlos’ fitness) and I referred to the point that Carlos would need to improve in that moment in time. I never referred to it after the match.

“In that specific action we identified that he needs to improve – he still needs to improve.

“We know the type of player we have and the work that needs doing.”

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