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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Friday, 1 October 2010 09:55 UK

Steven Naismith buoyed by Rangers form

Steven Naismith was on target against Bursaspor
Naismith scored Rangers' Champions League winner against Bursaspor

Steven Naismith is hitting his stride at Rangers, four years after joining the club, and hopes to continue his rich vein of recent impressive form.

"As a young boy you don't realise the difference between playing at a club like Rangers and at a small club like Kilmarnock," he told BBC Scotland.

"That, and a few injury problems, has probably set me back.

"Hopefully, I've turned the corner now and I'm playing the best football I have for Rangers."

Naismith scored the only goal in Wednesday's Champions League win over Bursaspor at Ibrox, taking his tally for the season to four.

The 24-year-old is now enjoying a regular run in Walter Smith's starting line up and played in both of Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifiers earlier this month.

And the £1.9m signing from Kilmarnock is likely to add to his haul of international caps in next month's double-header with Czech Republic and Spain.

Rangers have made a fine start to the season, with a 100% domestic record, and they share top spot in Champions League Group C with Manchester United, having drawn 0-0 at Old Trafford in their opening game.

Smith has voiced concerns about the small squad at his disposal in what will be his last season before retirement.

We're not stupid. David Weir, Lee McCulloch, guys like that, drill it into us that it's one game at a time

Steven Naismith

However, Naismith shrugged those fears off, saying: "The few additions we did make in the summer have gone a long way.

"It just shows when you're bringing in guys like (Nikica) Jelavic and (Vladimir) Weiss at Aberdeen. They are top class players.

"Everyone feels together and we think we can win every game we go into.

"So far, we are confident that we can do well this season and come away with a few trophies."

Weiss, who arrived on loan from Manchester City has said that Rangers are in good shape to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, even suggesting they can top a tough section.

But Naismith was altogether more circumspect when assessing the team's European chances after picking up four points from a possible six.

"It's given us a bit more confidence to go for third place first and foremost," he explained. "That's the most realistic goal for us.

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"We have a double-header coming up against Valencia and they are as good a team as Manchester United and Barcelona.

"It's going to need an exceptional performance to get anything from the games.

"Last year we got a harsh lesson. We started off with a good result in Stuttgart and fell to pieces after that.

"We're not stupid. David Weir, Lee McCulloch, guys like that, drill it into us that it's one game at a time. Don't get carried away."

The Scottish champions drew flak for their negative tactics at Old Trafford and again deployed a 5-4-1 formation at home to Bursaspor.

"It's hard work for the boys but everyone knows what their job is," said Naismith.

"We took a lot of criticism for the Manchester United performance, people saying it was anti-football.

"But I thought we showed against Bursaspor that the formation can be attacking as well as defensive.

"We created the most chances and probably should have scored a few more and they didn't have any real great chances.

"As long as you have a mixture of experience with younger boys, with a lot of energy to burn then I think we can do well with that system."



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see also
Rangers can top Group C - Weiss
30 Sep 10 |  Rangers
Smith delight at Rangers victory
29 Sep 10 |  Rangers
Rangers 1-0 Bursaspor
29 Sep 10 |  Rangers
Celtic are favourites - Broadfoot
24 Sep 10 |  Rangers


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