Thursday, 24 April 2008

Smith has faith in depleted Gers

Rangers manager Walter Smith believes his patched-up team has enough quality to overcome Fiorentina in the Uefa Cup semi-final first leg at Ibrox.

Barry Ferguson, Allan McGregor and Lee McCulloch are among the many regulars missing for the Glasgow side.

"The fewer players you have, the easier it is to select a team," said Smith.

"We have changed our formation at different times during the European run and, if we have to do so again, then we are quite capable of handling that."

Like skipper Ferguson, Kevin Thomson is suspended, while Charlie Adam, Steven Naismith, Chris Burke and DaMarcus Beasely are also on the Ibrox injury list.

"We have looked at the opposition and then we will look at our own squad and select from there," added Smith.


"We have a requisite number available to us so we are quite confident the side we put out will acquit themselves well.

"We haven't played the same system in all the European games we've had this season, we have changed it now and again.

"For instance, the last time, when we were in Lisbon, we changed it around a little bit."

Rangers are just two games away from their first European final in 36 years and Smith wants another big push from a squad still in the hunt for a four-trophy haul.

"We were a little bit surprised to reach this stage and it has been a terrific achievement by all the players," he continued.

"We have worked extremely hard and have enjoyed a little bit of luck along the way.

"But, now that we're here, we can say for the first time that we are looking forward to two very tough games but also the possibility of getting to a European final.

"For a coach or a player, it's a big thing in their career."

Fiorentina striker Adrian Mutu
Mutu is someone you respect as having an exceptional level of ability
Walter Smith on Adrian Mutu

On their way to the last four, Fiorentina beat Everton on penalties and Smith has been in touch with Toffees manager David Moyes.

"I've spoken to David with regard to the game and he thought he was very unfortunate, especially in the second game, not to go through.

"But he also impressed upon me what a good team he thought Fiorentina were and he left me in no doubt that they are an exceptionally good team.

"Outside the Champions League games we've had, I felt Werder Bremen were an exceptionally good team and I would put Fiorentina on a par with them.

"They have shown that this season with their league campaign, where they currently look as though they could qualify for the Champions League above AC Milan, which is a terrific achievement for them."

Adrian Mutu is Fiorentina's leading scorer and has bagged six goals in the Uefa Cup.

However, Smith knows the Romanian striker is not the only danger facing his side.

"I always think it's dangerous to choose one player when you are looking at a team," he said.

"Fiorentina have a number of players who can cause problems, as we have ourselves.

"Mutu is someone you respect as having an exceptional level of ability and Fiorentina seem to be bringing out the best in him.

"But I think it would be wrong to say that he's the only threat that Fiorentina have."

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