Smith looks forward to key trio's comeback

Rangers manager hoping to have Papac, Miller and Davis available this weekend
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The Independent Football

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, has received three pieces of good news ahead of this weekend's Scottish Premier League game against Hamilton. Kenny Miller, Sasa Papac and Steven Davis are all set to return for the visit of Accies after sitting out recent matches.

Miller has been out of action since the 2-1 win over St Mirren last month with a calf injury and Rangers have struggled to kill teams off in his absence. "I think he will be fit to play this weekend," said Smith.

"It looks as though the calf injury will eventually clear and he may be able to start training in the middle of this week. He had been playing well for us but we have to cover for the loss of players. We feel we have a big enough squad to do so, and we didn't do so. When that happens, we can only look at what happens during the games."

Papac has also been sidelined through injury, while Davis missed last week's defeat at Hearts and the win over Aberdeen because of family reasons. Smith added: "They will be back. I just felt that going to Tynecastle, with Sasa [Papac] being out for two games and the type of game it was going to be, it would have been a difficult one to come back into. But he will be back at the weekend and Steven Davis will be back as well." Smith admits a far improved performance will be needed against Hamilton after the 2-1 reverse at Tynecastle saw Rangers fall seven points adrift of Celtic.

He said: "It was a disappointment for us. We didn't start the game well at Tynecastle. It was very similar to the game we had there at the start of last season. That should have been warning enough for everybody who was here. But we gave away two goals from set-plays and we ended up putting ourselves under pressure by giving away fouls easily. That allowed Hearts to get the ball into dangerous areas, not just at the goals, but on another four or five occasions afterwards as well.

"Even after an hour of the match when we controlled the game and Hearts were pinned back in their own half, we didn't really create a worthwhile opportunity. It was a disappointing performance on a couple of levels."

Meanwhile, the Hearts manager, Csaba Laszlo, has escaped a two-match touchline ban. His appeal was upheld by the Scottish Football Association following a meeting of their disciplinary committee at Hampden yesterday morning. Laszlo was reported following the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen in the Premier League on 25 October, where he stormed on to the pitch at the end of the game and became involved in a heated exchange with the fourth official, John McKendrick.

He was also accused of shoving Dons coach Sandy Clark but claimed afterwards he was simply following his usual post-match ritual of going on to the pitch.

Dundee United manager Craig Levein has signed a three-year contract extension. The new deal sees him remain at Tannadice until the end of May 2012 after two successful years at the Tayside club. Assistant manager Peter Houston and reserve-team coach Gary Kirk have also signed similar contract extensions.

Levein has transformed the fortunes of United since his arrival in October 2006. At that point, the club were languishing at the bottom of the table but enjoyed a top-six finish in the Scottish Premier League and a Co-operative Insurance Cup final appearance last season.

Chairman Stephen Thompson revealed that securing Levein on a longer-term contract was his priority when he assumed control of the club following the death of his father, Eddie. Levein revealed he was more than happy to pledge his future to the Tangerines. "I thoroughly enjoy working at this club and I'm genuinely excited about the future prospects for the squad of players we now have," he said.