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Rangers manager Smith slams Diouf media reception

Brian Winter, El Hadji Diouf and Marius Zaliukas
Diouf (centre) made his debut for Rangers against Hearts

Rangers manager Walter Smith spoke up in defence of new signing El Hadji Diouf after the 1-0 win over Hearts.

Diouf made his debut in the Scottish Premier League encounter at Ibrox, a couple of days after his transfer deadline-day loan move from Blackburn.

And asked about the somewhat negative reaction to his signing, Smith said: "In Scotland, it's not unexpected, the reaction you get.

"Better treatment than a serial killer, I suppose, but there you are."

Diouf has had his brushes with controversy north and south of the border, including an incident at Celtic Park during his spell with Liverpool when he was caught on camera spitting on a Celtic fan in a Uefa Cup tie.

"I heard the lad's interview on radio yesterday and he apologised for one or two of the incidents but this morning's reporting seems to have missed out the apology," Smith said.

"Like everyone else in life, he's made one or two errors, he's stood up and admitted it. But in Scotland you always get a bit of over-reaction to everything and that's just the way it is.

"I thought he did very well, considering he hasn't played for a couple of weeks. He showed that he's wanting to be involved in the play overall, he's keen to get on the ball and once he gets a couple of games under his belt I think he'll do well for us."

The captures of Diouf, Arsenal youngster Kyle Bartley - also on loan - and David Healy have given a few fresh faces for his squad, which lost top scorer Kenny Miller to Bursaspor last month.

"In the first half of the season we've managed okay and we had the extra games in the Champions League but we always need the wee bit of luck, injury- and suspension-wise.

"If that stands up and we do get that little bit of luck that's necessary for us then I think we should (cope)."

On the down side for Smith an injury to Lee McCulloch, who was replaced by Diouf, is likely to see the midfielder miss Sunday's Old Firm clash in the Scottish Cup fifth round but the Rangers boss is hopeful striker Nikica Jelavic will return from a groin strain in time for the derby.

You were always a little bit concerned that, at 1-0, they could always come back. I'm really pleased that we've managed to get the win

Walter Smith

"His (McCulloch's) knee's been bothering him for a little bit over the last month and he took a knock on it," said Smith. "I think it'll make him very doubtful for the game on Sunday.

"He (Jelavaic) has got a groin strain but we're hoping, after a couple of days' rest, he'll be okay for Sunday's game."

Of the win against Hearts, Smith was pleased to move to within five points of Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic and put the same distance of points between Rangers and third-place Hearts, the Ibrox side having played two games fewer than both of their nearest challengers.

"I thought it was always going to be a really awkward match for us, considering that Hearts lost so heavily at Celtic Park last week," added Smith. "They were always going to make sure that that didn't happen again.

"We played very well in the first 20-odd minutes or so then we lost Lee McCulloch and that took a little bit of rhythm out of the play with the changes that were made. I felt it was a little bit scrappy before half-time.

"Second half of the game, I felt we maybe just edged that and had a couple of opportunities.

"Hearts really didn't trouble our goal very much, one header from a set play in the first half, but you were always a little bit concerned that, at 1-0, they could always come back.

"So, I'm really pleased that we've managed to get the win."

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see also
Jefferies plays safe with Black
02 Feb 11 |  Hearts
Hearts gave their all - Jefferies
02 Feb 11 |  Scotland
Rangers 1-0 Hearts
02 Feb 11 |  Scottish Premier

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