Boyd's striking performances make him favourite for Smith

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The Independent Football

Kris Boyd's stunning strike against Partick Thistle showed why he will be in Walter Smith's starting line-up more often than not, the Rangers manager has said.

But Smith has warned tomorrow's SPL opponents Hibernian now have a similar match-winner in Derek Riordan. Boyd continued to answer the critics who pick apart his all-round game by unleashing a sensational first-time volley with his weaker left foot to help Rangers squeeze into the Co-operative Insurance Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night.

The goal was Boyd's fourth this season and came after an uncertain summer when Cardiff had a £2.5m bid for his services rejected.

"Kris showed the other night at Firhill, what he does best," said Smith. "He scored a fantastic goal. It was a terrific goal, the manner in which he made contact with the ball, the technique he used to finish. It's not his strongest side."

Smith continued by saying, "If we can supply him with opportunities, he's a player who can take those chances. That's what he has done throughout his career."

Neil Alexander is set to continue in goal after his surprise recall at the expense of Allan McGregor in Sunday's 2-1 win over Motherwell. Smith said: "He has played well in the games so, as I said to him, we have to be fair."

The Celtic midfielder Barry Robson is still struggling to recover from a groin injury for the visit of Aberdeen in the SPL this afternoon. Defender Gary Caldwell will serve a one-match ban after being sent off against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last week for handball. Glenn Loovens will therefore partner Stephen McManus in defence.

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