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By ESPN Staff
Aug 1, 2008

Smith cautious after being drawn with Danes

Rangers manager Walter Smith is refusing to tempt fate by discussing potential opponents for the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

The Ibrox club were paired with Aalborg or Modrica at today's draw in Nyon, with the Danes almost certain to progress after a 5-0 win from the first leg.

Rangers' own progression in the tournament looks far less secure after being held to a goalless draw at home by FBK Kaunas on Wednesday night.

A daunting trip to Lithuania now lies ahead, with last season's UEFA Cup finalists aware they face the threat of crashing out of Europe completely at the first hurdle.

Smith said: 'I don't want to comment too much on the draw - we have to get there first.

'We just have to wait and see whether we are cut out to get there. I don't think it's right to comment when you're not through to the next round.

'We will have to work hard to get there so we will comment if, and when, we get there.'

Kaunas coach Jose Couceiro claims Rangers remain the favourites ahead of Tuesday's second leg, but Smith believes the Lithuanians will privately have gained in confidence from the stalemate at Ibrox.

He added: 'If you look at the second leg of any game being at home, after drawing 0-0 away from home, you would consider yourself to have a far better opportunity than you had at the start.

'Legitimately, they could have looked at us and said they weren't favourites to go through. But, after the other night, they will fancy their chances.

'We know that we have to improve on our performance if we are hoping to go through and that will be on our minds more than anything else between now and the game on Tuesday.'

Another setback for Rangers is the increasing likelihood that Carlos Cuellar will be ruled out of the trip to Kaunas.

The Spanish defender sat out the first leg after suffering a calf strain in last week's friendly at Raith Rovers.

Smith had initially been hopeful that Cuellar would make a quick comeback but now he appears unconvinced that Cuellar will be on the plane with the rest of the squad on Monday morning.

'He won't be fit for tomorrow's game against Liverpool,' said the Rangers boss.

'There is a possibility for Tuesday, but it's a slight one.

'We were hoping to have him and it would look at present that we won't have him, but he may just make it depending on how he trains over the next couple of days.'

The visit of Liverpool in a glamour friendly at Ibrox tomorrow is now being regarded as a crucial part of Rangers' preparations for the make-or-break Kaunas clash.

'We will have a strong side out,' said Smith.

'I would have taken this game prior to the match the other night because we played Chelsea and Ajax this time last season and they brought a good edge to our game.

'Unfortunately, because we are so early this season, we couldn't arrange a game prior to the game against Kaunas.

'We now take Liverpool and hope that brings an edge to us.

'They are an attractive side, they've put together a team they hope will challenge for the Premiership, and it will be a good game.'

Kenny Miller, during his spell at Derby, watched Rangers dispose of teams away from home in Europe on several occasions last season.

He is backing Smith's men to do so again, after making his second debut for the Ibrox club against Kaunas.

Miller said: 'We've seen in the pre-season games that we have maybe lacked a cutting edge and we haven't been as clinical in front of goal as we should have been, myself included.

'I had a really good chance to open the scoring against Kaunas, as did Darche [Jean-Claude Darcheville].

'Goals change games and I feel if one of them had gone in, we would have won the game quite comfortably.

'Last year we showed that we can go away and win games in Europe so hopefully that won't be different on Tuesday night and the boss will have us prepared to get the right result.

'We had to go through the two qualifying rounds last year so it's no different and we know what we have to do.

'We didn't get the desired result on Wednesday but we still have a chance and I feel we are more than equipped to go there and get the win and move on to the next round.'

end

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