Smith prepared for January clear-out of Rangers squad

By Gavin McCafferty
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The Independent Football

Rangers manager Walter Smith has hinted he would be comfortable losing up to 10 players from his first-team squad. Smith refused to confirm whether fringe men such as Charlie Adam have been told they could leave, and claimed there was no certainty anyone would depart in January.

But he added that a first-team squad of as little as 18 experienced players could be a manageable size, signalling a likely cull of his 28-man pool. Names such as Christian Dailly, Steven Smith and Brahim Hemdani look unlikely to play for the first team in the foreseeable future and could be on their way out.

Smith, whose team face Dundee United in a Scottish Premier League clash today, said: "I kept reading that everybody said we have a squad of 28 players and that's too big, so it would be natural to assume that we will possibly lose a few players. Will somebody come in for them? Nobody knows.

"If we were running with a group of around 18-20 with a few younger players who are just about ready to come up to our squad, I think you would be looking at a decent number to operate on." Smith's side face a United team who have lost just once in 14 matches.

Craig Levein's team came within a minute of winning at Ibrox during that run, only for Kevin Thomson to secure a 3-3 draw with a spectacular strike.

And Smith expects another entertaining contest at Tannadice. "We had a smashing game at Ibrox earlier in the season," he said. "Both the teams have good defensive records. I said to Craig [Levein] after the last game, we seem to throw that out the window when we play each other."

On the other side of Glasgow, Celtic manager Gordon Strachan expects Shaun Maloney and his other players who sustained knocks in Wednesday's Champions League win over Villarreal to be ready for today's SPL match with Heart of Midlothian at Parkhead.

Maloney received some treatment at Celtic Park after the Villarreal game but should be fit for the visit of the Edinburgh side. However defender Lee Naylor (virus) and Barry Robson (thigh) are still out.