Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

No more defeats, warns Rangers boss Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith has challenged his players to go through the rest of the season unbeaten and boost their hopes of retaining the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

The Scottish champions squandered the opportunity to move top of the table for the first time since Boxing Day when they suffered a 3-2 defeat to Dundee United at the weekend.

Smith wants his side back on top form against St Johnstone tonight but believes coming through the final 10 games without dropping points will be a big ask for both Rangers and Celtic.

He said: “I think Hearts have had the longest run of wins this season and won something like 11 games.

“It can be done but either team is going to have to have a run of that level to go on and win a championship.

“When you are at the Old Firm, you've got to win every game anyway.

“We have lost one of the 11 games we had and we'll have to try and get through the rest of them unscathed.

“With only one team having managed to win 10 or 11 games this season, it will be a difficult task.”

Rangers will be able to take a full squad to Perth after Smith was able to name just five substitutes on the bench against United.

He said: “We had an unfortunate circumstance at the weekend when even our under-19 players who have been on the bench for us recently— Darren Cole, Kane Hemmings and Kal Naismith — were all injured as well and that left us rather short.

“Darren Cole and Kyle Lafferty are fit again so that will bring our squad up to the required number.”

Meanwhile, Smith has no complaints about the 6pm kick-off time at St Johnstone.

He said: “We've got to get the game played so there is nothing anyone can do.

“The split means you have to get the games played before the split. We have to do that and, if it's at 6pm, fine.

“We are used to a situation just now where we have got different kick-off times so it's not a problem for us.”

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