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Dec 4, 2009

Smith defends Gers discipline after Nacho row

Walter Smith insists there is no problem with discipline at Rangers in the wake of Nacho Novo's antics at Aberdeen last week.

The striker found himself at the centre of a police investigation over an incident following last Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League game and could also be charged with improper conduct by the Scottish Football Association.

The Spaniard was photographed making a gesture as he walked off the Pittodrie pitch on Saturday. The 30-year-old was also pictured with his shorts lowered beneath his buttocks but it is the alleged finger gesture that is more likely to land him in trouble with the SFA.

But Smith, speaking ahead of tomorrow's trip to Falkirk, sees no reason to be overly concerned by the incident. "Nacho knows that one aspect of his reaction was wrong,'' he said. "They all know that and they have always shown a great deal of care.

"A lot of time they do take a fair level of abuse and sometimes if the team is not doing well, even though you're a substitute, you still feel that. I don't think there is any great problem with our discipline overall.''

Smith also claimed there were no lingering issues with Madjid Bougherra and that there was no reason why he could not force his way back into the team. The defender found himself dropped to the bench for the Champions League defeat to Stuttgart after returning late from international duty with Algeria for a third time this season, and was named as a substitute again at Aberdeen.

But Smith said: "He will come back and play for us. I don't think there is any problem. At different times we have one or two problems with players that we have to handle but I've never said he wouldn't come back and play for us - he will come back and play for us.

"He's been doing well for us when he has been called upon to play. The World Cup situation has probably been something he has paid a bit more attention to than he should have, forgetting his club situation. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't come back in and play for us.''

Despite speculation linking Bougherra with a January departure, Smith again reiterated the club was under no pressure to sell key personnel when the transfer window re-opens next month. "We were in the previous two transfer windows,'' he said. "But, by some miracle of accountancy, we don't seem to be under that pressure in this transfer window. That's all to the good as far as we are concerned.''

However, the club's financial situation means bolstering the squad in January remains unlikely. "Only if we get a buyer,'' said Smith. "I don't think that would be possible otherwise.''

Even though, Smith sees no reason why Rangers cannot retain their championship - providing they start to look like champions again, beginning with this weekend's visit to Falkirk.

He said: "We have a group of players who went on and won a championship. We lost a few in the summer and we don't have as big a squad as we had. But maybe I've been too honest about our form so far considering, if we had won our game in hand, we would be at the top of the league.

"What I'm saying is that we have been patchy in terms of our form this season. We have played very well in some stages of the season and at other times we have been poor. One of our poorest was last week at Aberdeen, where we didn't deserve any better than we got. But I'm hoping we will get a really good reaction to that defeat.

"It's the first time we had lost in a long time away from home and it was only our second league defeat of the year. The boys have set a really good standard and I've felt we have slipped below that at times this season.

"This month is a big, big month for us in terms of showing that we can recapture a level of form and recapture a level of desire and get back to a position where we would look more like champions than we have done in a lot of games this season.''

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