Kris Boyd has urged Walter Smith to give him the chance to steer Rangers to success in this weekend's Old Firm derby. Boyd is by a distance Scottish football's top scorer this season, with 23 goals in 26 games, but doubts persist over his ability to excel on the big stage.
The 25-year-old has started only four of 12 matches against Celtic since joining Rangers three years ago, scoring only once in the fixture. There is every chance Smith will drop one of his front two for Sunday's trip to Parkhead in favour of bolstering a midfield that has left their defence over-exposed too often this season. Should that happen, history favours Kenny Miller being handed the lone striker's place.
Boyd acknowledges his record against Celtic is poor – especially at Parkhead – but he is desperate to put that right this weekend. "It's true that I have not had much joy at Parkhead over the years," he said. "In fact, the only time I have scored there was when I got a couple against Faroe Islands with Scotland and even that was a few years ago.
"There is no doubt I want to be involved in the game this weekend. But it's up to the manager – he's the one that will decide that. As a footballer, you want to play on the biggest stage possible and it doesn't get any bigger than an Old Firm game. I started the match at Ibrox in December, which gave me a taste of it again, but I will be keeping my fingers crossed I can be involved on Sunday and help the team."
Celtic won that match 1-0 after Boyd missed a one-on-one with Artur Boruc. "I had a big chance after half-time but, unfortunately, it didn't go in," Boyd said. "I should have scored but there is not a lot you can do when the ball goes up the other end and someone smashes home a great goal."
The result put Celtic seven points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League but Rangers have since cut the deficit to two. Boyd said: "If we can now go above them this weekend, that would be massive, but we know how difficult that will be."
Boyd, who was omitted from August's 4-2 win at Parkhead, added: "Celtic are strong at home and not many teams go there and take three points. But we did it earlier in the season and we have to be confident of doing that again."
One player who will not be daunted by a trip to Celtic, according to Boyd, is teenager John Fleck. The 17-year-old is set for his Old Firm debut after a series of outstanding displays since breaking into the first team. "John has the temperament to handle any situation at first-team level and going to Parkhead will not be a problem for him," Boyd told Rangers News.
"If anything, I think he would enjoy playing on a stage like that. When you are young like that, you need to be fearless in many ways; you need to have that if you are going to be a professional player at the highest level."
Meanwhile, the Celtic midfielder Marc Crosas has declared himself ready to take part in what he believes is the greatest club match in the world. The former Barcelona midfielder has hit form for Celtic but is yet to play in an Old Firm contest since joining the club in July, but he claims the atmosphere is even better than El Clasico, between his former club and Real Madrid.
"As a Barcelona supporter I always looked forward to Barcelona versus Real Madrid," Crosas said. "It's always a big game for the Spanish people, even if you're a fan of another team. It's like Inter versus Milan or Celtic against Rangers. But I think this match might be the best, in terms of atmosphere and ambience. For me, it's amazing and I think that all the emotions you experience in one game like this, even as a spectator, are unbelievable."Reuse content