Rangers strong enough for four-cornered challenge: Smith

Rangers strong enough for four-cornered challenge: Smith

( AFP ) - Rangers manager Walter Smith insists that despite a narrow 1-0 defeat over Hibernian in the Scottish Cup he has a strong enough squad to cope with the demands of competing in four tournaments.

The Glasgow side progressed to the last eight after edging Sunday's fifth round replay at Ibrox.

Rangers now face a tough trip to Germany on Thursday to take on Werder Bremen in the second leg of a last 16 UEFA Cup match before Sunday's Scottish League Cup final against Dundee United at Hampden.

And with a Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against Partick Thistle on Wednesday week the fixtures are coming thick and fast for Rangers, who sit four points clear of their Old Firm rivals Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

But Smith believes he has the players to help bring a trophy back to Ibrox for the first time since May 2005, when the club lifted the SPL title.

He said: "The only thing that concerns me about the number of games coming up is the situation with injuries.

"We've got Daniel Cousin with a fractured jaw and Lee McCulloch with a thigh strain. But Jean-Claude Darcheville should be back, if not for Thursday then Sunday.

"As I've kept saying I don't think it is fatigue or anything like that which is the problem. It is the injury situation.

"But hopefully we have a big enough squad to handle that. We have to keep the freshness throughout the squad.

"We have players coming back like Kevin Thomson, who has not played for five or six weeks, and we have to make sure they reach a level of match fitness.

"If we are saying on the one hand that we have a big squad of players and we constantly use roughly the same first eleven players then we are maybe going to hit a problem.

"So it is a difficult balance from a managerial point of view to try and achieve but I just have to continue and try and do it."

On Sunday Rangers were made to work hard for their place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

Earlier in the day Old Firm rivals Celtic clinched a replay against Aberdeen with an injury time equaliser from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink making it 1-1 at Pittodrie.

At Ibrox Rangers took the lead in the 40th minute with a super strike from winger Chris Burke after good work from Northern Ireland international Steven Davis.

Davis cut in from the left and drove his pass across the box to Burke who skipped past his marker to curl the ball into the top left hand corner of the goal.

Rangers should have increased their lead on the stroke of half time but Naismith's weak effort was easily saved.

Hibs started the second half positively and had the best of the early chances.

Former Rangers player Ian Murray saw his shot deflected wide in the 53rd minute and Fletcher headed just past the post.

The home fans were incensed when referee Craig Thomson waved away Nacho Novo's claims for a penalty in the 74th minute when his cross appeared to be handled by Chris Hogg.

But worse was to come for Novo, who had come on for Steven Naismith in the 67th minute, when he was shown a straight red card for a two-footed tackle on Cameroonian Thierry Gathuessi with 79 minutes on the clock.

Walter Smith too was ordered to the stand by Thomson after an altercation with the Hibs bench in the aftermath of Novo's ordering off.

Novo is likely to miss next Sunday's League Cup final against Dundee United through suspension following his dismissal.

However, despite a late rally Hibs failed to capitalise on their extra man advantage and Rangers hung on to clinch a place in the quarter-finals.

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