Walter Smith relieved as his attacking options increase for Paisley trip

NAMING injury-returnees in his squad is only the beginning of the end for Walter Smith's selection problems. In these straitened, transfer-bereft times for his club, the Rangers manager is certainly counting his blessings that Kenny Miller, Nacho Novo, Pedro Mendes and Steven Naismith come into contention for tonight's trip to St Mirren Park, and DeMarcus Beasley will be available this weekend. Only Miller and Novo have the recent game time to be ready for full hostilities, though.

Smith, however, is simply relieved to see his frontline options increase from the bare minimum, in squad of already shallow strength. "It's brighter news since the injuries we've had were all from the same area," he said. "But we have to be careful not to put too many of the boys coming back from injury in at the same time. We have to guard against that. But Mendes will probably play at some point."

Smith admits his team needs "luck injury-wise" in facing a two-game-a-week programme for the next month. He feels that ran out with four or five casualties in the forward or wide areas after these departments had helped Rangers destroy opponents in December. That form has given way to a five-game spell in 2010 when the Ibrox side have got the better of opponents inside 90 minutes only once. "After a period where we had been creating a lot, that has fallen off because of the natural shortage of front players. So it will be nice to have a few back," said Smith, confirming Kris Boyd's return after surgery on a hernia remains between two and four weeks.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile, St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson admits he is relieved the Ibrox side will be without Boyd tonight. "Kris Boyd would be a big miss for any team, not just Rangers," he said.

"When he was at Kilmarnock and was missing, he was a big loss for them too. But Rangers are a team with quality players.

"You just have to look at the game against Hearts at the weekend when the boy (Andrew] Little comes on and scores. They have a strong squad, albeit they have some injuries at the moment, and they have youngsters who are keen to show what they can do."