Rangers boss Smith ready to ring the changes
Rangers boss Walter Smith has hinted he is preparing for a January clear-out of his squad.
Chairman Sir David Murray revealed last week he would only allow Smith to spend in the transfer window in an emergency. But Smith is actually planning to reduce the size of his squad, which he hopes will also allow him to draft in reinforcements if necessary.
"There are 28 people in the senior squad and that is a big staff,'' Smith told Rangers' website. "First and foremost, we must deal with that situation as we don't need that many players and we have to address it.
"Understandably, some of the boys aren't happy they've not been involved as regularly as they would wish. In all probability, our staff will be cut down more than anything else but that doesn't stop us from looking at one or two positions we might need to fill as well.
"Obviously, we have to do that in conjunction with people who may leave in the January transfer window. It may well be we just go with the squad we have at the moment.''
Were Smith to bring players in, his priority would appear to lie in bolstering his roster of defenders. Recent injuries have forced him to field forward Lee McCulloch at centre-back in recent games.
However, Smith has not ruled out McCulloch providing long-term cover in the position, while Andy Webster returns from a loan spell at Bristol City in January.
"Defensively, Lee has come in and played in a position where he hasn't really played before except in the reserves over the last month or so,'' Smith said. "He has done really well in that area and we are pleased with the progress he is making at the back.
"Andy will also come back to us from Bristol City and that will alleviate our situation there too. We'll see what happens when his loan agreement ends.''
One player who could have been forgiven for fearing for his Rangers future in recent weeks was Jean-Claude Darcheville.
But the French forward has been given a vote of confidence by Smith after netting his first goal of the season in Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League victory over Aberdeen after a month out in the cold.
"Jean-Claude has not had a lot of opportunities to play lately but he did well when he came back in,'' Smith said. "It was a weight off his shoulders when he scored, especially because the boys were starting to give him a little bit of stick about it, as you can imagine.
"Sometimes, strikers go through spells where they don't score but Jean-Claude was in the right place at the right time on Saturday. Hopefully, it can now lead to a few more for him. It would be great to see him score the way he did for us last season.
"He weighed in with some important strikes in his first year here and while his chances have been limited this term, he still has the confidence needed when called upon.''
Darcheville stood in for Kenny Miller against the Dons and could keep his place for Saturday's trip to Hearts with the Scotland striker still struggling with a calf injury.
Kris Boyd should be fit to lead the line despite coming off injured on Saturday, while Smith expects defenders Sasa Papac and Madjid Bougherra to return at Tynecastle.