Smith calls for Rangers to go on offensive in Europe

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The Independent Football

Steven Smith, the Rangers defender, believes his side will take a positive attitude into the Uefa Cup clash with Maccabi Haifa despite their stuttering domestic form.

Rangers face the Israeli side at Ibrox tomorrow after victory at Livorno in their opening match in the group stage. The win, followed by victory at St Mirren, appeared to have signalled an upturn in fortunes for Paul Le Guen, their manager.

But Rangers could not keep up the progress as they stumbled to a 1-1 home draw with Motherwell on Saturday. "After the last performance in the Uefa Cup we have to take all the confidence in the world into this next game," Smith said. "We're going for the three points and, hopefully, that'll be enough to take us through."

The left-back believes the nature of the 3-2 triumph in Italy proved Rangers can cause more upsets in Europe. "I think people expected us to play for a draw, which you can see we didn't do. We have to take the same attitude into the next game," he insisted.

But Smith warned that his side must also be wary ahead of the clash with a team which beat Auxerre 3-1 in their opening game. "In this group, all the teams are capable of beating each other and that is what we have to be wary of when Maccabi come to Ibrox. European nights are always special. When the fans get behind us, it gives you that extra 10 per cent."

But the 21-year-old admitted he was delighted to have become an ever- present in the team under Le Guen. "I'm still young and still learning, but I have to be pleased with the progress I've made."

Smith believes the learning process will allow Rangers to improve on their early-season performances. The Glasgow side sit in third place in the Scottish Premier League, 12 points behind the leaders Celtic.

The youngster was forced to turn down a late call-up for the Scotland squad to face France and Ukraine earlier this month as he nursed a thigh injury. He remains desperate to claim his first cap for the national team under the manager Walter Smith.

The Rangers player said: "But it was also a big boost for me knowing Walter Smith is actually thinking about me. If I do well in the big games for Rangers, then he can't ignore me."