Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Rangers look to strike it lucky

Rangers 2 Hearts 0

Rangers manager Walter Smith insists he would have no fears about throwing both Kris Boyd and Andrius Velicka into this weekend’s crucial Old Firm derby.

Some critics believe the strikers are too similar to play alongside each other but the pair seem determined to prove the doubters wrong.

Both were on the scoresheet to seal a 2-0 win over Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, with Boyd bringing his tally for the season to 30 goals and Velicka claiming his fourth goal in as many games.

The win keeps Rangers within a single point of Celtic ahead of Saturday’s clash at Ibrox.

"I’ve got to sit down and pick what I think is the best team and that’s what I will do," said Smith.

"I don’t have any fears about playing them if that’s what you are asking."

Velicka was the forgotten man of Ibrox after spending most of the season in cold storage until his involvement in recent matches.

Smith added: "When you have an injury problem, you have to adjust to that. Then, when your team starts winning games and players start coming back from injury, that gives you a problem.

"But it’s a pleasant problem in comparison to not having anyone available because we are getting them back at the right time.

"I’m not surprised that he’s managed to score goals. What has surprised me a little bit is his consistency of scoring, I wouldn’t have put him down as a striker who is an out and out goalscorer.

"The reason I got him was for his strength and holding up the ball and his overall play.

"I still think there’s a bit to come in that because he has had an awkward season which has been upset by two serious injuries.

"His rate of goals has been excellent, as has Kris Boyd’s. It’s good that we have been getting goals from both of them."

Rangers have now recorded six wins on the trot for the first time this season and Smith said: "We have good momentum going - I don’t think there is any doubt about that.

"We didn’t play as well as we have done in recent games but we managed to win and, at this stage of the season, that’s the most important aspect.

"Our players have a belief that they are going to win the games and that’s a big thing.

"We’ve had changes to make in our team due to injuries and suspensions etc and we have managed to handle it very well."

Rangers lost out on the title on the final day last term and Smith claims only circumstances have changed since then.

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