Bougherra blow demands Rangers rethink
Kilmarnock 2 Rangers 3: Kirk Broadfoot has said the loss of fellow defender Madjid Bougherra for the crucial Champions League game against Manchester United is a major blow for Rangers.
The Scottish champions head into the clash at Ibrox on Wednesday night knowing victory is likely to be required to keep their hopes of a last 16 place alive, after defeat in Valencia allowed the Spaniards to overtake them into second spot.
Rangers earned a credible draw in their Group C opener against United at Old Trafford, but the stalemate relied heavily on an ultra-defensive display that has also worked well in subsequent games.
However, Bougherra had a key role to play in the stubborn 5-4-1 formation, meaning boss Walter Smith will be forced to rethink his plans this time around.
The central-defender is out with a hamstring injury and also taking into account his surging runs forward and ability to supply the front players, Broadfoot believes his absence will be a double blow.
He said: “It's a massive loss. He is a big, big player for us. You can see that in his performances, with the way he defends.
“He is a big man with stature. He doesn't only defend, he also gets forward for us and creates chances for us so he will be a massive loss.”
Broadfoot is largely deployed in the full-back areas, but can play anywhere across the back four and is prepared to step into the void left by Bougherra in the heart of defence if need be.
He said: “It doesn't bother me, I've played there before.
“I just want to play so I don't mind what position I play.”
Maurice Edu, who netted for both clubs as Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia at Ibrox, is also set to miss the visit of the Premier League giants through injury and will join Bougherra on the sidelines.
Boss Smith said: “They would both have been playing so it's a loss to the team and I don't think there is any way we can get away from that.
“As I've said before, the injury situation that could possibly happen to us will cause us problems through the season and we just have to try and overcome that.
“One or two of our younger boys have been getting an opportunity to come in and play recently so that will continue.”
There were no Rangers representatives in the Scotland squad to face the Faroe Islands in a friendly midweek and Smith hopes the break will provide a boost for his players who have faced a gruelling schedule in recent weeks.
“I would hope it has been of benefit to us in terms of just the rest away from football,” he said.
“You could see freshness in everyone on Thursday and Friday, even though it was only two or three days away from it.
“I would hope we would get that benefit in the upcoming games.”
Striker Kenny Miller, meanwhile, insists the Gers’ battling victory over Kilmarnock on Saturday sets them up perfectly for Wednesday’s game.
The Scottish champions fought back from behind for the sixth time this season to claim all three points in the Scottish Premier League, with Miller netting a hat-trick in the 3-2 win.
He knows Rangers must show their grit and determination again to overcome United as they battle to keep their hopes of a last 16 place alive.
He said: “Of course this win sets us up nicely. We will have to soak up a lot of pres
sure and we will have to win the game if we are to have a chance of qualification so we are going to have to create a few chances.
“We were disappointed with how we played on Saturday, but we've got to be positive going into the game on Wednesday night.”
Wayne Rooney is set to be unleashed in Glasgow after returning from injury as a substitute in Saturday's 2-0 win against Wigan.
Miller added: “He is a fantastic player, but he is only one of many that they've got. It's not Wayne Rooney we will have to worry about, it will be the whole team, whether it be Berbatov, Nani, Scholes or Giggs.
“It's going to be a tough night for us and we are going to have to ride our luck and play well and hopefully take the chances when they come along.”
Miller netted twice from the penalty spot at Rugby Park before claiming his third on a day when he could have added further to his tally.
The striker has now found the back of the net 18 times for Rangers this season and although still refusing to set himself any targets, Miller is aware he is well on course to beat his own personal best.
Miller said: “I've not set any targets since the start of the season. I just want to get as many as I can.
“I got 21 last season and the most I've scored is 24 for Wolves the season they got promoted. Every time I go out there, I hope to get on the scoresheet so I'm just looking for as many as I can get.”
Conor Sammon netted twice — including the opener — and Mohamadou Sissoko later saw red for Kilmarnock in a game they were unfortunate to lose.
One of their stand-out performers was Alexei Eremenko, the Finland international who is on a season-long loan from Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv.
He said: “My contract is until May. There is a possibility I could go back, but it depends on my club and many things.
“At the moment, I want to stay at Kilmarnock.”