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Rangers fans take heed of Smith’s desperate plea

Walter Smith praised fans for responding to his appeal to ditch the offensive songs as Rangers scraped a 1-0 win over Hamilton in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The Scottish champions could face disciplinary action from UEFA following allegations of discriminatory chanting by their supporters during last month's Europa League game against PSV Eindhoven.

Smith made a direct plea to fans on Friday, warning them the club could suffer “drastic consequences” if they persisted with sectarian singing at matches.

Those who made the trip to New Douglas Park for the clash with Accies — which saw Nikica Jelavic grab the only goal of the game — appeared to take heed of what their manager had to say.

Smith said: “There seemed to be a good reaction to that so hopefully that will be a continuing aspect and, if it is, then all to the good.”

There may have been no offensive singing, but there was also little to shout about as Rangers made hard work of their win over Hamilton, who were themselves denied the opener when Dougie Imrie was denied by Allan McGregor from the penalty spot when the game was still deadlocked.

Smith has not had his injury problems to seek this season and admits he needs some of those currently on the casualty list back in action for the remaining games to add a boost to the side.

He said: “It will certainly help us, there is no doubt about that.

“The counter-side of that is that some of them have been out for a while and it will take a bit for them to come back in and get up to speed but that's just the situation we are in at the moment. I would hope we would get a little bit of freshness.

“The players are giving a great deal so it's not a complaint about my team and I'm sure they will show a good reaction in Wednesday's game at Aberdeen.”

One of those players sidelined at the moment is Vladimir Weiss, who was quoted in a Sunday newspaper saying he was out of the title run-in after revealing he has a broken bone in his foot.

But Smith has refused to give up hope of the on-loan Manchester City winger playing again this season.

He said: “I don't know whether he will be out for the rest of the season or not.

“He has to see a specialist on Tuesday and it will depend on the result of the scan how long he will be out. I don't think he will be out for the rest of the season.

“The indications earlier on were that once the bruising on the bone starts to improve, he will have an opportunity to get back. We will just have to wait and see. We've got a few in that position that we need to try and get back before the end of the season.”

Also out of action is Madjid Bougherra, with reports yesterday claiming he has reluctantly rejected a two-year extension.

Smith said: “Martin [Bain, chief executive] has been in discussion with his agent. I couldn't tell you if that is the case but Martin hasn't mentioned that aspect to me.”

Belfast Telegraph


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