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Forward thinking from Walter Smith

By David McDaid

Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller in action for Scotland
Can Boyd and Miller form a good partnership at Ibrox?

Kyle Lafferty's arrival at Ibrox makes him the third striker to join Rangers in the close season, and one of eight in the first team squad.

Kenny Miller has re-joined from Derby County and Andrius Velicka has agreed to sign in July.

Already there are Kris Boyd, Jean-Claude Darcheville, Daniel Cousin, Nacho Novo and Steven Naismith.

The question that immediately arises is how can so many attack-minded players be accommodated?

Will an exodus follow the influx? Or will manager Walter Smith opt to use more in attack than the lone striker he favoured last term?

Smith's options have been narrowed slightly by injury to Naismith.

The former Kilmarnock player is facing a year on the sidelines after surgery to repair his cruciate ligament.

Boyd finished the season once again as Rangers top scorer with 25 goals, even though he only started 23 games.

The Scotland international's goals-to-games ratio is second to none.

Despite that, he has found it difficult convincing his manager he should be part of his starting line-up.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

It appears that Smith has reservations about Boyd's game outside the penalty box, his pace and his workrate.

Following the Scottish Cup final, in which he scored a double to help his team win the trophy, the player did concede that he might have to look elsewhere to find regular football.

But he has since underlined his commitment to the club, adding he wants to fight for his place.

At club level, Miller's scoring record leaves a lot to be desired, but does Smith view his tireless running as a complement to Boyd's predatory prowess?

Cousin could be one player who leaves the club before the transfer window closes at the end of August.

The agent for the Gabon striker has reiterated his client's desire to play in the English Premier League.

And he would have joined Fulham in January had Fifa not blocked the move as it would have been his third club in the same season.

However, if Cousin moves on it is unlikely to be to Craven Cottage as they have indicated they are no longer interested in acquiring the player.

Darcheville was Smith's preferred striker in Europe, where he made 11 of his 28 starts last season.

His power and pace made made him a genuine goal threat, but at times his finishing was erratic and it was not until very late in the season that he actually completed a full 90 minutes.

Miller has proven on the international stage with Scotland that he is adept at playing in that lone striker role and he can last the distance.

Daniel Cousin celebrates a goal at Ibrox
Can Rangers find a buyer for Cousin this summer?

New addition Velicka is another strong player with an eye for goal. In two injury-hit seasons at Tynecastle he found the net 25 times.

Before his brief interlude at Viking Stavanger, the Lithuanian scored two to eliminate Celtic from the CIS Insurance Cup in Glasgow.

Rangers fans will want to see more of the same from him.

Spaniard Novo arrived at Ibrox as an centre forward in 2004, but found his niche towards the end of last season supporting from a wide position.

He still managed to get his name on the scoresheet 16 times.

His industry and enthusiasm are unquestionable, and he was rewarded with an extension to his contract until 2010.

As well as playing through the middle, Northern Ireland international Lafferty can also play in a wide left role.

The Rangers boss was often maligned last term for the 'negative' 4-5-1 formation that he fielded last season - albeit to good effect for the most part.

It should be remembered that Smith's side scored 84 league goals, the same number as title-winners Celtic and their highest tally in five terms.

But even if he does employ two in attack over the next campaign, there will still be up to six unhappy players on the sidelines.

One thing is for sure, Smith, and some of his many strikers, will have to make some tough decisions.


see also
Lafferty agrees terms with Gers
17 Jun 08 |  Burnley
Velicka completes Rangers switch
16 Jun 08 |  Rangers
Miller delight at Rangers return
13 Jun 08 |  Rangers


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