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By ESPN Staff

Gers boss Smith rules out any January spending

Walter Smith has ruled out any January arrivals at Rangers as he gave loan flop Jerome Rothen permission to leave Ibrox.

Smith will make no additions to his squad during the transfer window, including loans or free agents, barring a new year injury crisis.

The Light Blues chief insists the comeback from long-term absences of Kirk Broadfoot and Maurice Edu and the forthcoming return of Pedro Mendes gives him a pool of players capable of competing on three fronts from January until May.

With Rangers £31 million in debt, it is doubtful Smith would have had any money to spend on transfer fees next month but his refusal to dip into any market represents a vote of confidence in his current squad.

''The group we've got now is big enough as long as we've got no injury problems,'' said Smith when asked if he would consider a move similar to that made for Paris St Germain winger Rothen on transfer deadline day.

''When I brought him in, it was at the last minute, because we were faced with a situation where we knew we were going to have at least two, maybe three players out for almost the entire first half of the season.

''But we've got everybody back fit again so, for us, we'll go through the season without bringing anyone in.''

Rothen is reportedly seeking a way out of his season-long loan to Ibrox and Smith has no intention of stopping him.

''We can let him go, come to an arrangement with him,'' he said. ''It's one of those things that hasn't worked out for us, although the lad is ill at the present moment.

''If he wants to go back in the transfer window, we'll allow him to go back and go and play in France for the second half of the season.''

Former France international Rothen, 31, failed to make any impact after his September move.

He has not played since the October 20 Champions League humiliation at the hands of Unirea Urziceni and returned to Paris last month after falling ill with what was initially reported to be swine flu.

Smith is hoping Rothen will not lead a mass exodus from the club, with a host of Rangers players out of contract this summer.

One of those is top scorer Kris Boyd, who has now attracted the interest of Bundesliga side Bochum, although Smith confirmed there had been no bids for any of his players.

Should Rangers fend off interest in their big names, Smith believes he has the strength in depth to create genuine competition for places.

''We've not got a big group of players,'' he said. ''Now we've got the majority of them fit, yes there is a bit of competition there that maybe wasn't.''

That appears to be reflected in recent results, with the return of Broadfoot and the re-emergence of DaMarcus Beasley crucial to a run of three straight SPL wins which have propelled the champions back to the top of the table.

They will extend their lead over Celtic to four points with victory over Motherwell at Ibrox.

The sides meet for the first time since Well boss Jim Gannon claimed referee Craig Thomson might have handed Rangers the title by failing to award Celtic a penalty in October's Old Firm derby.

Thomson will be the man in the middle but Smith does not believe Gannon's outburst will have an negative effect on the official's performance.

''I don't think it adds any extra pressure on the referee at all,'' said Smith, whose side were held to a goalless draw when they last met Motherwell in September.

''If we play in the manner we did at Fir Park, the referee won't matter. If we play as well as we have done in the last couple of games, he'll still not matter, but we might get a better result.''

Smith was boosted by the news Madjid Bougherra had been given permission by Algeria to play in next Sunday's game at Hibernian before leaving for his country's pre-African Nations Cup training camp.

Smith, who wanted the defender available until the January 3 Old Firm derby, joked: ''With a wee bit of luck, we'll have him for the Dundee United game by tomorrow and maybe for the Celtic game after that if he keeps going!''


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