Smith confident on squad strength

Walter Smith says he has faith his squad can cope with the demands of a testing week in Europe and at home after watching them come from behind to defeat Motherwell 4-1 at Ibrox.

Nick Blackman had headed Motherwell ahead as Rangers trailed at the break for the third match running but the visitors, who hadn't conceded away from home this season, looked shell-shocked as they lost four goals in 19 second-half minutes.

Steven Naismith started the remarkable comeback just 90 seconds after the break and a stunning strike from Steven Davis gave Rangers the lead before Kenny Miller's 11th of the season and Vladimir Weiss completed the rout.

It was the perfect warm-up for a tough week for Rangers, who face Valencia at home in the UEFA Champions League before travelling to the other end of Glasgow to play Celtic in the first Old Firm derby of the season next Sunday.

But Smith, whose small squad has been hit with injuries to Lee McCulloch, James Beattie, John Fleck, Kirk Broadfoot and summer signing Nikica Jelavic, insists the players left can cope with the tough tests ahead.

I think in the first-half of the season it is more a mental thing than a physical thing. It is not tiredness in any way.
Walter Smith, Rangers manager

"We have a situation where we have a small group of players and we know we have to handle it," the Rangers boss said. "The boys who play for us know that's the case. There is no getting away from that. I think in the first-half of the season it is more a mental thing than a physical thing. It is not tiredness in any way.

"It is difficult for the Scottish lads especially getting back from playing the World champions on Tuesday night and then having to play at home in a league game. It's not easy to lift yourself mentally for that.

"Playing against Spain is a big thing for any player. To come back and have to adjust to an ordinary league game is sometimes a difficult thing. It will different for the next two games we have - we'll have no problem in that respect."

The win against Motherwell maintained Smith's side's 100 per cent winning start to the season, moving them three points clear of rivals Celtic before their clash away to Dundee United on Sunday.

It is the Ibrox club's best start to a season since 1999/00 when they went on to win the treble under Dick Advocaat and they could set a new Scottish record if they clinch a ninth win in a row against bitter foes Celtic next Sunday.

However, despite admitting he is happy with the way Rangers have started the season the manager says his side must stop their sloppy starts in games after finding themselves having to come from behind in four of their eight league matches so far.

"It's a great start for us and we're delighted," Smith added. "We managed to have a little bit of a gap between ourselves and Motherwell at the end. A lot of the other games have been fairly close and it's been the odd goal and we've had to work extremely hard to win the games.

"It is a credit to our group who have played exceptionally well at different times. There has been a little bit of slackness in our play, especially in the early part of the season, and maybe the conceding of one or two of the goals has given us a little bit to worry about overall.

"It is not like us to concede the number of goals we have done in the last three games and that is something we might have to adjust to a little bit. But overall we are delighted with the way we are playing."