Smith hails Lafferty return as crucial to Rangers' hopes
Rangers boss Walter Smith has underlined the importance of Kyle Lafferty’s return to the Rangers squad for tonight’s Europa League clash with PSV Eindhoven in Holland.
The Northern Ireland striker has been sidelined with tonsillitis but has been passed fit to play and Smith feels his presence could be vital in the quest for a crucial away goal.
Smith said: “In the European games, trying to get a goal away from home has a big influence on how the games are played.
“We would hope to do that — we managed to get two in Lisbon (in the last round) so hopefully we can do enough to try and get a goal here.
“To get a forward back is a big thing for us. Lafferty can play in the wider areas and through the middle and from our point of view it's important to get some players back.
“Hopefully he can get his tonsils removed at the end of the season and the course of antibiotics allows him to play on until then.”
A question mark, though, remains over Vladimir Weiss' involvement.
“Weiss is slightly different — it's awkward for a footballer to have a bruised foot.
“It was giving him a fair bit of discomfort so I would put him in the doubtful category,” he said.
Smith believes PSV Eindhoven will be a far tougher prospect than Sporting Lisbon.
The Scottish champions needed an injury-time goal from Maurice Edu to beat Sporting on away goals in the last 32 of the Europa League.
And Smith is under no illusions about the size of the task his players face against the Dutch league leaders.
He said: “This will be a tougher game because the circumstances surrounding the clubs are different. PSV are certainly steadier and they are on a good run of form and are top of the league.
“This season, along with FC Twente, PSV have been the steadiest of the Dutch teams, looking from the outside.
“They look as though they are having a season where they are more than capable of winning the championship.
“They have a decent physical presence in their team, they play a good level of football. They like to get the ball forward and overall this season they have an opportunity to be very successful.”
As well as Sporting, Rangers have also come up against Manchester United, Valencia and Bursaspor — in the Champions League — this season.
Asked if this was their toughest challenge yet, Smith said: “In the Champions League we played against a good standard of team so we will have to wait and see how the game turns out.”
He added: “You would always look at Dutch teams, especially those having a good spell at the top of the league, as being extremely tough.”