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Page last updated at 22:18 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Bougherra call-up concerns Smith

Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra
Bougherra has only just returned to the Rangers team

Rangers manager Walter Smith still hopes the Algerian Football Federation will allow Madjid Bougherra to play against Celtic on 3 January.

The Rangers centre-back is due in France on 27 December for Algeria's preparations for the African Cup of Nations in Angola the following month.

Smith said: "He has asked if he can stay until after the Old Firm game, but so far he hasn't been given permission.

"Hopefully there can be a resolution and we won't lose him for the game."

Bougherra has featured for Rangers only sporadically after a spell on the sidelines through injury and international demands as he helped his country reach the World Cup finals in South Africa.

Another extended absence would not be welcomed by the Rangers management team, but Smith says the club has had to time to prepare for Bougherra's call-up.

"They are away from 27 December," said Smith of players starring in the African Cup of Nations.

The international team's problem is that if they let one player stay, they have to let a number of them stay

Walter Smith on Algeria's predicament

"If they reach the final, they are not back until 3 or 4 February, so it's a long spell away, but when you sign an African player you know every couple of years you are going to have that loss.

"It's something we have always known was going to happen, so we have to accommodate the loss of the player."

One African player who has been cleared to play in the Old Firm match is Celtic's Cameroonian midfielder Landry N'Guemo.

Although his country will also play in the finals in Angola, he has been given permission by national coach Paul Le Guen, the former Rangers manager, to play for Tony Mowbray's side before joining the Indomitable Lions.

However, Bougherra is just one of a number of British-based players who will turn out for Algeria, a situation that does not aid the defender's bid to stay for Rangers' New Year derby.

"From Madjid's point of view, the Algerians have quite a few players playing in Britain and they are all going to be playing at that time," said Smith.

"The international team's problem is that, if they let one player stay, they have to let a number of them stay. We will have to wait and see what happens."

Should Bougherra be unsuccessful with his plea, his place at the heart of the Rangers defence will almost certainly be filled by 17-year-old Danny Wilson, who impressed while deputising for the Algerian in recent weeks.

Smith also now has Kirk Broadfoot, who can play at right-back or centre-back, pushing for first-team action after his nine-month absence with a foot injury.

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see also
Smith says Bougherra back in fold
27 Nov 09 |  Rangers
Aberdeen 1-0 Rangers
28 Nov 09 |  Scottish Premier
Bougherra unlikely for Euro trip
31 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Smith seeks Bougherra explanation
17 Oct 09 |  Rangers

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