Smith admits he is struggling to attract players to Rangers
Rangers manager Walter Smith admits he is being priced out of the transfer market. Smith signed a new one-year deal after agreeing an improved budget to sign players following direct talks with representatives of Lloyds Banking Group. But the size of the fees being demanded by clubs and players means Smith is struggling to land his targets as fans await the club's first signing since August 2008.
"Market forces are against us right now and that is happening a lot," Smith said. "Everyone says we have a small group of players and that we will need to bring new ones in and, of course, that is correct.
"But when we are looking around it's difficult to achieve the balance of getting the level of player you want given the level of finance available. So that is the task that faces us and we will obviously try to bring in the best we possibly can."
New signings are imperative for Smith after Kris Boyd joined Nacho Novo, DaMarcus Beasley and Stevie Smith in leaving the club when the Scotland striker joined Middlesbrough this week. The Rangers manager hopes to have new players on the plane when his squad flies to Sydney for a pre-season tour on 20 July but he will not rush the process. "I would hope to have new faces in before we travel to Australia but it is not something we are going to dive into," the 62-year-old said. "In the past, through different sets of circumstances, the club have maybe had to do that and it has not worked out in the right way."
With a striker a priority given the departure of Boyd and Novo, Smith can afford to take his time over defensive reinforcements.
Andy Webster has returned from a season-long loan at Dundee United and both Davie Weir and Kirk Broadfoot have signed new contracts.
Smith said: "I felt that given the amount of players that we have lost and the fact that we haven't replaced any yet that it was important that we kept hold of Davie because he represents a level of stability for us.
"He has been a terrific captain for us for over a year now and a terrific player since he came here in 2007. We might be asking a lot of him to go on for another year but he is more than ready to take up the challenge. We are both in a similar situation and hopefully we can both be as successful as we have been.
"Kirk missed huge periods of the past two seasons because of an awkward injury. I always knew it would take him time to find his form again but he is an important player for us because he can play in a number of positions for us. So I'm delighted he has chosen to stay with us."
Steven Naismith is relishing the prospect of new signings this summer because he believes Rangers need competition for places again.
The striker says the arrival of fresh talent at Ibrox can only benefit the current crop of players by giving the whole place a lift.
"It will just keep everybody on their toes," the 23-year-old said. "The squad has not been as big for the last few years and a few new faces will brighten the whole place up. Hopefully there will be more competition for places and it raises the standard again."
Asked what the club was like now his fellow striker, the prolific Boyd, had left Naismith smiled. "It's quieter," he said. "I used to travel with him in the mornings and obviously I won't be doing that now either. It's a different place without him and all the other boys who have left. Over the last couple of years we gelled well as a squad and not just in the football sense, off the field as well. It's a transformation now."
Naismith has backed Boyd to be just as prolific in front of goal at Middlesbrough as he was at Rangers.
The pair played together at Kilmarnock, before both sealed moves to the Scottish champions, and 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.
Having taken Scottish football by storm, Naismith believes Boyd's skills will transfer to the Championship after signing a two-year deal at Boro. 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."
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