Freddie Ljungberg could feature in Old Firm derby

By Lisa Gray,Pa
Wednesday 29 December 2010 11:40

Rangers manager Walter Smith claims he has no fears about Celtic recruiting Freddie Ljungberg ahead of this weekend's Old Firm derby.

The former Arsenal star, 33, is training with the Parkhead club this week with a view to a earning a deal.

Hoops boss Neil Lennon has been keen to temper expectations about the Swedish star taking part in Sunday's clash at Ibrox.

But, even if he does make his debut in the highly-anticipated new year showdown, Smith insists the Celtic team as a whole, rather than individuals, will pose the biggest threat.

He said: "The games worry you, that's the thing, that's the aspect we would be looking at more than anything else.

"I don't think either club can look at a situation where, if they sign a particular player, that's a problem.

"He's a good player, there is no doubt about that.

"But my concern would be about Celtic's team overall as much as any individual."

Meanwhile, Smith is still sweating over the fitness of Steven Naismith ahead of the derby and admits the loss of the midfielder would be a major blow.

Naismith - who recently signed a new deal with the Scottish champions - was forced out of the Boxing Day win at Motherwell with a hamstring injury.

Smith said: "Just now, he would be doubtful. He would have missed the game at St Johnstone.

"I would hope it would maybe settle down and give him a little bit of a chance but at the moment he is doubtful.

"It would be a blow to us to lose him because he has been playing extremely well.

"Not only has he been playing well, he has been playing very consistently as well. We would miss him if he didn't make it."

Rangers were set to face St Johnstone in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League tonight but the match at McDiarmid Park was postponed due to weather conditions in Perth.

Celtic will host Motherwell at Parkhead, providing them with the opportunity to move into pole position in the SPL before facing Rangers.

However, Smith's biggest concern is a backlog of fixtures with games against Hearts, St Mirren and Dundee United also called-off in recent weeks. Indeed, the game at Tannadice has fallen victim to the weather twice.

He said: "With a smaller group of players, we are having to face quite a number of fixtures in the second half of the season so it will be a busy spell for us once we do get started.

"From our own point of view, that's the biggest disappointment with the games being off. It's fitting them in that's always awkward.

"We will also have European games to play and we are quite a few games down so we know most of our midweeks will be filled in the second half of the season.

"It will be a busy second half of the season and our concern will be injuries and suspension taking their toll on a small group of players."

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