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Page last updated at 22:26 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 23:26 UK

Rangers' Walter Smith not looking to rest players

Walter Smith has a drink during Rangers training
Smith is playing it cool over Tuesday's Champions League tie

Walter Smith says his players' reaction to international duty will affect his team selection against Hamilton Accies more than facing Manchester United.

The manager's Rangers side are at New Douglas Park before facing United at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

"What will affect the team selection more is the boys who have been away playing in the two international games more than anything else," he said.

"Those who are available for us all trained this morning and were alright."

The Scottish champions boast a 100% record so far, but Smith think they have yet to find their top form ahead of Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.

And he insists that his players will be concentrating on that rather than having one eye on facing Sir Alex Ferguson's side in European competition on Tuesday.

Over the next couple of months, we will be changing the team around quite a bit

Rangers manager Walter Smith

"It's the early part of the season, so it may be that we won't make too many changes to the team from the previous outing," said Smith.

"There is no doubt you have to be careful going into this period from now until December really.

"If you're an international player, you've got a lot of games to fit in.

"As a manager, it's one of those things you have to look and judge who has been affected by playing in so many games.

"But we've got a group that we can change around, we've got quite a few players who can play in a few positions.

"Over the next couple of months, we will be changing the team around quite a bit."

Despite having a compact squad at his disposal, Smith has every faith in his players to cope with a gruelling mix of European, international and domestic action in the coming months.

"Whatever numbers we've got will handle the games okay," he said. "Footballers are resilient enough.

"It will just mean them playing the games and not doing an awful lot of training. I'm sure we will handle all that. It's just the injury situation that would be a concern to us.

"We have a small squad, there is no doubt about that. If we are hit by injury or suspension then we are down to some of our younger academy players.

"We just keep our fingers crossed that we don't get too many injuries."

Smith spent some time as Ferguson's assistant at Old Trafford but says he has yet to discuss the tie with the United manager.

"I'll probably speak to Sir Alex, but we've both got tough away games this weekend, so we'll let those games be over before we start to think about the Champions League," he said.

Rapid Vienna's progression to the Europa League groups stages means that £4m signing Nikica Jelavic is ineligible to play for Rangers in the Champions League.

"Although we would have wanted him for the Champions League games, Jelavic will offer us a freshness in the domestic games after the Champions League matches this season," suggested Smith.

"We are looking forward to seeing him in the games. He has been looking good in training and hopefully that will carry into the matches."



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see also
Police warning over Rangers visit
10 Sep 10 |  Manchester
Hamilton v Rangers
10 Sep 10 |  Scottish Premier
Edu aims for Old Trafford impact
08 Sep 10 |  Rangers


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