Smith realistic on title
Walter Smith has admitted it will be a 'tall order' for Rangers to challenge Celtic in the SPL.
Last Updated: 11/03/11 7:00pm
Walter Smith has admitted it will be a 'tall order' for Rangers to challenge Celtic in the SPL due to their European exertions.
Rangers are only five points adrift of their Glasgow rivals with two games in hand, leaving their destiny in their own hands.
However, the Ibrox side are still involved in continental competition and Smith recognises how difficult it will be to juggle the demands.
Having put themselves in a decent position to progress to the Europa League quarter-finals with a goalless draw at PSV Eindhoven on Thursday night, Smith is hopeful of going all the way to the final as Rangers did in the 2008 Uefa Cup.
He is refusing to prioritise, but admits another lengthy stint in Europe could define this year's domestic challenge against Celtic, who exited European competition in August.
"It's a tall order for us if we continue to play in Europe, I think that might be a factor depending on how our situation develops," Smith said.
"Basically we are going to have to go on an exceptional run of wins to get the championship.
"I think there will be points dropped for all the clubs but Celtic went on a long run before losing to Motherwell.
"I think we will have to emulate that if we're going to be champions."
Rangers have seen their ability to handle fixture congestion affected by cuts to the size of their squad, which has been stretched further by a glut of injuries, although Nikica Jelavic and Sasa Papac are both set to return against Kilmarnock on Sunday.
"If you look at the last time, we handled it all the way up until the last couple of games when we were asked to play three games in six days and stumbled a bit there," Smith said.
"To be honest, it's not going to help us, the extra games, especially with the smaller group we've got. But there is no use trying to prejudge anything."
The former Scotland manager added: "The priority is just to win. You can't choose.
"If you're in the professional game and you're in a tournament, you want to do as well as you possibly can.
"I think we've shown in the League Cup and Scottish Cup and Europe we try and do as well as we possibly can.
"That's the way it will be and that's the way it has to be at a club of this size."
Edu targets final
Rangers' run to the Uefa Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg three years ago has given the players the belief they can emulate that achievement and set up a date in Dublin on 18th May.
"I don't see why not," said midfielder Maurice Edu. "I know it's a difficult task and the fact we have a thin squad this season makes it that much more difficult.
"In saying that, there is a great spirit and a great amount of character in this team.
"I think that can take you a lot further than some people might think."
Edu added: "When the season is over you want to look back and have things to show for it, to have the chance to win medals and do something special.
"I think everyone would rather be in that situation as opposed to being knocked out of a competition so you have less games."
Smith is more cautious about the chances of making another final, warning that PSV have the attacking capability to do what Rangers did on three occasions in 2008 and progress after a goalless home leg.
But he feels they have a good chance of beating the Dutch side and has welcomed Edu's confidence.
"If you're not optimistic there's no point in trying," he said.
"We have shown in the past we can come up against good sides and get through.
"We enjoyed a bit of luck in that run, if we can get another bit of luck, you never know what could happen."