Smith delighted to watch Weiss take wing at Ibrox

Rangers manager Walter Smith believes Vladimir Weiss has shown just a glimpse of what he has to offer the Scottish champions after impressing on his debut in the 3-0 win against Hibernian at the weekend.

The 20-year-old had to settle for a place on the bench for the visit to Easter Road after completing a season-long loan move from Manchester City last week. But the Slovakia winger made the most of the opportunity when he was thrown into the action with 25 minutes to go, immediately causing problems for the home side before setting up Kenny Miller for the second goal of the striker's hat-trick.

Rangers beat a host of other clubs to Weiss's signature, including their Old Firm rivals Celtic. "We are pleased with the way he played," Smith said yesterday. "We've never really had a winger and in my three and a half years here I've kind of toiled manfully to try to find one. He was one who was brought to our attention and he is a lad who can be a huge benefit to us in that respect. I always think a team like ours needs that type of player and, hopefully, once he gets a number of games under his belt, we will see him come on to an even better level."

Another new signing, James Beattie, was the provider for Miller's opener and Smith was thrilled to see his new additions play an important role in the game, saying: "It was nice. James Beattie did well for the first goal, seeing Kenny in the position that he was in. I felt that goal was going to be important. Scoring the first goal was always going to be a vital factor in the game and we managed to get it and to go on from there. Once the game opened up a little bit, we got three and might have got another one or two."

Miller appears to have inherited his former strike partner Kris Boyd's goalscoring touch as well as his No 9 jersey. "They were good goals from Kenny," Smith said. "He has been doing exceptionally well this season. He has spent his whole career being unselfish in terms of his runs and he has helped everyone who has played with him to get a level of goals.

"Last season, I felt we were seeing a slight change in him, in terms of his overall positioning to get a goal, and this season has been the same. I think myself and all the boys in the team are pleased that he's getting a level of goals for the work that he's doing."

At Celtic, James Forrest expressed his relief that Neil Lennon secured the Celtic manager's job on a permanent basis this summer because it has accelerated his own speed of progress at Parkhead. Lennon worked with 19-year-old Forrest at reserve and youth level in his previous coaching role so knew all about his potential before taking charge of the senior squad after the removal of Tony Mowbray.

The home-grown midfielder was the outstanding talent for Celtic against St Mirren at the weekend and scored the third goal in a 4-0 victory that had Lennon lauding his ability afterwards, despite wishing to contain the hype.

Forrest is bound to be compared to the departed Aiden McGeady, a £9.5m summer sale to Spartak Moscow, but he seems unfazed by the attention focused on him.

"At the end of last season, the manager [Lennon, then caretaker] brought me on a few times and I thought that if he got the job he would give me a chance and that's what he has done," Forrest said. "It's hard to say I'm the 'new Aiden McGeady', but I want to play more games and show the fans what I can do. I scored at the end of last season as well, but it was good to get another and, hopefully, I'll get used to it.

"I was delighted to make my first start at Celtic Park, it felt really good and it was great to score, as well. The manager picks the team, so we'll have to wait and see whether I play in Utrecht [in Celtic's Europa League second-leg tie on Thursday]. "I just need to keep my feet on the ground and see what happens."

Lennon avoided the question of whether Forrest would start in the Netherlands, when Celtic take a 2-0 lead to Utrecht with qualification for the group stages at stake, but hinted that the midfielder could soon become a domestic regular.

"We will probably structure the team differently in Holland, whether Forrest plays, but he's certainly an asset to the squad now," Lennon said. "He's 19, he's not a 17-year-old, he's been around. I've had him for a year and seen him develop nicely in the last year and we'll try and manage him the best way we can, but I think we've got a good player on our hands."

Lennon is still seeking fresh striking talent before the transfer window closes, even though his side eased to a comfortable 4-0 win over St Mirren, with further goals from Joe Ledley, Shaun Maloney and Ki Sung-yueng. "I'd like one more striker if we could get one," Lennon said, "but whether we can entice people of the ilk we're looking for is another story."

The St Mirren manager, Danny Lennon, confirmed an interest in free agent Alan Gow, the former Rangers forward, who is without a club after having his contract paid up by Plymouth Argyle.

He said: "I've had a couple of meetings now with Alan Gow and I know he was at the game, so hopefully seeing us at our worst hasn't put him off."

Comments