McAuley confident Rangers will not royally mess up Cowdenbeath cup clash

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Rangers defender Gareth McAuley admits he is still waiting to learn exactly when his date with the Queen will take place.

The Northern Irishman was awarded an MBE in New Year honours for services to the game in his homeland.

But almost three weeks on, he still does not know just when he will have his royal reception.

“I’ve received a letter telling me I’ll get six weeks’ notice and that’s when you know when to go,” the 39-year-old said.

“I was humbled, shocked, surprised when I found out. You do your job, you help people where you can but you don’t expect anything for it.

“It’s a nice accolade to have and the family are very proud.”

McAuley has a more pressing engagement before his trip to Buckingham Palace as he prepares for Friday night’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Ladbrokes League Two minnows Cowdenbeath.

Rangers remain on a high after drawing level with Celtic at the Premiership top of the table thanks to last month’s Old Firm victory, but the former West Brom centre-back admits it would be the king of all upsets if his side were to be toppled by the Blue Brazil at Central Park.

“Everyone knows what Friday’s game is and I’m sure you guys (in the media) will have the headlines ready if we slip up,” he said.

“Mentally we’ve got to be prepared for that. We all know what’s ahead of us, we all know about the pitch, we all know it’s a giant killing waiting to happen.

“But if we turn up, do what we do, then the game should take care itself.”

Gers endured a gruelling 38-game schedule during the first half of the season but have been able to get some much needed rest and fitness work during the winter break.

The second part of the campaign should not be quite so taxing now that the Light Blues’ Europa League commitments have come to an end, but McAuley says his side have no intention of slacking off.

“We’ve still got to make demands of ourselves every day to hit the standards and heights that we want to,” he added.

“The intensity and the training will stay the same, if not get even higher with not having the same game load.

“With what we’re trying to achieve, that intensity will certainly be there.”

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