“What he wanted was excessive and it wasn’t something we could or were prepared to pay. He has taken the opportunity to go and expand his football knowledge elsewhere.
“I felt he could be an international footballer by remaining at Rangers and I put that to him. He has lots to work on and develop but I feel he could do that here.”
As for the remarks by King, which were interpreted widely as an indication that the Ibrox board will not extend Murty’s period as interim manager beyond the summer, he said: “I haven’t had a conversation with the chairman.
“As far as I read it my situation hasn’t changed. It was just a reiteration of the current situation – a manager will be appointed at the end of the season. Regardless of whether that’s me or someone else, that’s what has to happen because my own contract is only until the end of the season.”
The credit side for Murty, as he heads into his fourth Old Firm derby in charge, is that, other than Bates – who was injured when the teams met at Ibrox last month – and Ryan Jack, he has a fully fit squad. Celtic, meanwhile, have welcomed several players back from layoffs and are also well equipped for the tie.
After it was learned that the Rangers players had cheered the draw that paired them with Celtic, Brendan Rodgers retorted: “Be careful what you wish for.”
The Celtic manager used the Ibrox reaction as a motivational tool again on Friday when he said: “This is a game they were cheering for – we respect every opponent. One of the values of this club is humility.”