Boyd backed to flourish at Middlesbrough

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The Independent Online

Steven Naismith has backed Kris Boyd to be just as prolific a goalscorer at Middlesbrough as he was at Rangers.

The pair played together at Kilmarnock, before sealing their respective moves to the Scottish champions, and fellow forward Naismith knows better than most what his old team-mate has to offer.

He watched as Boyd finished top goalscorer every season for Rangers, before writing his name into the history books when he replaced Henrik Larsson as the SPL's all-time top goalscorer.

And, having taken Scottish football by storm, Naismith is confident his skills will transfer to the Championship after signing a two-year deal at the Riverside.

He said: "I think he will score goals wherever he plays and he has shown that throughout his career so far – starting off at Kilmarnock, coming to Rangers and then on the international scene. It's another challenge for him and I'm sure he will score many goals for Middlesbrough. He has been in Scotland a long time, with Kilmarnock and Rangers, and it's probably just a different challenge for him."

Boyd's decision to quit Rangers and join Middlesbrough is likely to have raised a few eyebrows within the Ibrox faithful, having previously been courted by Birmingham and also linked with Wigan and Newcastle.

But Naismith pointed out that opting to join forces with former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan does not necessarily mean England's top flight was not an option.

He said: "I think Boydy had a lot of offers so it would be wrong of me to sit here and say he didn't get a move there because he wasn't good enough.

"He might have got a few offers from the Premiership. But I think he has looked at the full picture and decided the best move for him and his family was Middlesbrough.

"I don't know if it's a step up, a step down or whatever. It's more a different challenge, it's another league for him to play in. I'm sure if he does well at Middlesbrough, there is a chance he could be playing in one of the best leagues in the world. And that will be his motivation for people who are saying it's not a step up for him."

With Boyd's departure confirmed, Naismith hopes he can be one of the players to fill the void at Rangers.

"It's a big opportunity for everybody who plays up front at the club, definitely," he said. "Boydy is a hard guy to follow, with his scoring record. But we've got guys here who can score goals and they have proved that so I'm sure we will do all right."

Walter Smith insists Rangers could not have tried any harder to keep Kris Boyd at Ibrox. Smith said: "We did all we could to keep him. I think there were two things from his point of view – the money and a new challenge.

"From our point of view, we made him an offer that was as much as we could go to for any player that we were hoping to keep at the club or bring to the club. We are disappointed he has gone. But with the club's situation at the moment we have to accept that."

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