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"I think he's had a difficult start at Sunderland. He was transferred for a huge sum of money and has been unlucky with injuries. Added to that, he's playing against many of the best players in the world. But there's no questioning his quality and we're lucky to have him," said the fiercely proud Scot.Ready ReplacementAnd in Allan McGregor, Neil believes Scotland have a world class ready replacement."I'd heard how good Allan was before I arrived at Rangers. But you've no idea just how good he is until you see him up close."He works hard each and every day on the training pitch to improve his technique" said Neil, who represented his country at Under 18, 19, 20 and 21s - and has 3 full caps for his country - a source of great pride.Repeated speculation linking Neil with a move away from Ibrox was an unwelcome distraction during the latest transfer window."Sometimes it's difficult being a number two and only playing every so often. But I came to Rangers knowing Allan was number one and whilst I'm improving and learning as a keeper, I'm happy," said Neil who joined the club in 2008 after seven seasons with Cardiff City and Ipswich Town.Walter's tributeManager Walter Smith was delighted Neil chose to stay with the 'Gers. And earlier in the season admitted it has been awkward repeatedly leaving out his No2, despite the keeper not having put a foot wrong."As a manager, you stand or fall by those decisions," he said. "But it is awkward, considering that he's a terrific professional," said Smith."He's not let the disappointment prevent him applying himself to the game. He's been excellent for us when he's come in and played." A solid performance as a second half substitute against Switzerland in 2006 guaranteed his place in the Scottish team which won the Kirin Cup later that year - playing both matches against Bulgaria and Japan.So far this season, Neil's made five appearances (Ed: Neil made his 6th appearance in the CSI Cup Final victory over St Mirren helping Rangers to a clean sheet in a 1-0 win with only 9 men!) for the 'Gers in the League Cup and SPL and boasts five wins, with only two goals conceded."It looks like the club will offer me a new deal in the summer. It's a magnificent club and I get on great with Allan. Hopefully I provide some competition to help him become a better player."Although born and bred in Edinburgh, the lad who used to watch Hearts as a kid says he has no burning ambition to return to Tynecastle as a player... at least not yet!"As a family we're all very settled in Glasgow. I spent a long time getting the chance to come to a club like Rangers, so I'm not in a rush to get away."Group E:Holland, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, San MarinoGroup F:Croatia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, MaltaGroup G:England, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales, MontenegroGroup H:Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, IcelandGroup I:Spain, Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania, Liechtenstein Scotland's World Cup Record1930: Did not enter1934: Did not enter1938: Did not enter1950: Withdrew1954: Round one1958: Round one1962: Did not qualify1966: Did not qualify1970: Did not qualify1974: Round one1978: Round one1982: Round one1986: Round one1990: Round one1994: Did not qualify1998: Round one2002: Did not qualify2006: Did not qualify European Championships1960-64: Did not enter1968-88: Did not qualify1992: Round one1996: Round one2000: Did not qualify2004: Did not qualify2008: Did not qualify Scotland squad vs Czech Republic (3 March):Neil Alexander - RangersCraig Gordon - SunderlandDavid Marshall - Cardiff CityPersonal Detailsl DOB: 10/03/1978 l Age: 31 l POB: Edinburghl Height: 6'1l Weight: 11st 7lbs l Team: Rangersl Married: Yes, to Joannel Kids: Holly 6 Olivia 2l Drives: Range Rover Sportl Holiday: Florida and Dubail Must have on holiday: mobilel Golf handicap: 12l Reads: mainly sportsautobiographiesl What's on the CD: Eminem,50 centImage courtesy of Rangers FC

26SPRING 2010Portsmouth goalkeeper coach David Coles on recruitment, young talent and how match preparation for the senior keepers has changed.David Coles has had the pleasure of working with players such as David James, Antti Niemi and Jamie Ashdown on a daily basis but still gets excited about watching academy matches and coaching young players that show great promise.As the head goalkeeper coach of Premier League club Portsmouth life is not just about keeping his top four keepers match fit, 'Colesy' is very hands on when it comes to the recruitment of players and searching for the up and coming stars."Depending on when the first team play, I like to attended at least 2 matches a week sometimes three if it's possible. I went to Winchester on my way home from training on Sunday to observe our Academy game. I like to watch as many goalkeepers as possible you never know when a star can be on your door step."Coles relies on his worldwide scouts to search the professional leagues and advise him of certain players form but viewing the local talent is more about numbers."The policy I adopted at Southampton has been developed here at Portsmouth. We have set up a development centre and ask local clubs to send us there best two goalkeepers. We offer them a period of free coaching to check on the talent identification in our area, the goalkeepers are divided up into age related groups and worked with on basics to see where their skills are at in relation to our Academy keepers at the club. If we find a youngster that shows real potential then we monitor his progress over a period of four weeks, before integrating him with our Academy structure"Between 7-12 years old I am looking for a player with very raw materials but also someone that enjoys playing in goal. As they move into their teens I like to assess players using the 4 different corners: (1) Psychological (2) Physical (3) Social (4) Technical / Tactical."Being strong in all these areas is a key to being a successful keeper but Coles believes one of these is becoming more important."The personality and social side of a player is key to succeeding in the game. You have to have the right personality and attitude in order to progress. The days of just being technically sound are long gone." An example of this is Asmir Begovic who was developed by Coles over four and a half years at the club, coming through the Academy system to being sold on deadline this year for £3.25 million to Stoke City and Coles thinks they have an absolute steal for the future."I have never come across a goalkeeper as dedicated to goalkeeping as Asmir. We would travel to games with him wanting to talk and observe goalkeeping all the way to games with the reserves and do exactly the same on the way home. He was very knowledgeable on the art and has real desire and passion for his craft." Coles goes on "Asmir is as close as I have ever seen to having all of the four corners. He is one of the examples I will now use to show all our young goalkeepers what they need to possess to succeed in today's ever changing game."Coles also admits that regardless of the individual his work is never finished"I have learnt you never get the finished article, but you will get close to perfection as Recruitment,young talentmatch preparation&I have always said if you are good enough you are old enoughDavid Coles / Image courtesy of Joe Pepler/Portsmouth FCCOACHING CORNER COACHING CORNER COACHING CORNER COACHINGCOACHINGCORNER