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Smith transfers Rangers' attention to Europe

By Lisa Gray

The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, has put all transfer activity on hold until after tonight's Champions League qualifier against the Montenegrin side FK Zeta.

The Lens striker Daniel Cousin is hoping to open talks in the next 48 hours if the clubs can agree a fee while speculation persists that Hibernian's Steven Whittaker will arrive in a £1.75m move before the week is out. Smith is keen to strengthen his squad before next month's transfer deadline, but said yesterday his priority was guiding Rangers through their first competitive match of the season.

FK Zeta were due to arrive in Glasgow late last night for the first leg of the second round of qualifying and Smith said: "Our thoughts at the present moment are all channelled into the Champions League. Anything that is happening over and above that can wait until after Tuesday's game."

Confidence is high in the Rangers camp following Saturday's 2-0 win over Chelsea, although Smith was reluctant to read too much into a pre-season friendly. He said: "I don't think results of pre-season games are always a great indicator of how you are going to do, so we will have to wait and see how the team fares in a more competitive environment."

Zeta's unexpected win over the Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas in the last round means they will not be underestimated. They won the first leg 3-1 before fighting back from three goals down to finish the second leg in Lithuania 3-2, allowing them to scrape through 5-4 on aggregate.

Smith said: "In the games they played against Kaunas, they were very tidy on the footballing side and they look to have a decent mentality about them."

Kevin Thomson faces a late fitness check before the game. The midfielder has been suffering from an ear infection and, despite returning to training, is not yet 100 per cent.

A question mark also hangs over Alan Gow's involvement after a family bereavement. The long-term casualties Thomas Buffel (knee) and Steven Smith (groin) are out.

Rangers provisional squad: McGregor, Hutton, Weir, Cuellar, Papac, Broadfoot, McCulloch, Beasley, Hemdani, Ferguson, Darcheville, Burke, Boyd, Sebo, Carroll, Novo, Webster, Murray, Gow, Thomson.

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