Wal­ter says Gers goal ace must stay

Midweek Sport - - SPORT - By AN­GUS REID

WAL­TER SMITH has urged Rangers to keep a tight hold of star striker Ni­kica Jelavic in the trans­fer win­dow.

The Croa­t­ian has net­ted 14 goals so far this sea­son to help the cham­pi­ons open up a four-point ad­van­tage at the top of the SPL.

But their re­solve could be tested again next month af­ter Jelavic was the sub­ject of a failed £6.5mil­lion bid from Le­ices­ter in Au­gust and was re­cently linked with a Jan­uary move to Liver­pool.

If the player does move on, former boss Smith – who signed Jelavic for Rangers in Au­gust 2010 – be­lieves cash gen­er­ated from the sale must be re-in­vested back into the play­ing squad swiftly.

He said: “For Rangers to hold onto any of their play­ers has been im­por­tant. We have lost play­ers in the past in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow and were dis­ap­pointed in do­ing so.

“I know we man­aged to han­dle it but I think it’s im­por­tant for Rangers to do that.

“Whether the club will lose any­body or not, we will just have to wait and see.

Piv­otal

“Ob­vi­ously, the loss of Jelavic would be some­thing they could well do with­out.

“If Rangers did lose him, as long as the ma­jor­ity of the money went back to­wards get­ting some­one of a very sim­i­lar stan­dard, then you would say they could come back from that.

“I think the pref­er­ence would be to keep Jelavic. That would help greatly in terms of Rangers’ op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­tain the ti­tle.”

Smith be­lieves next week’s Old Firm clash at Celtic Park could prove piv­otal to the out­come of the ti­tle race as Ally Mc­coist aims to steer the Light Blues to the SPL crown in his first sea­son in the hot­seat.

His pre­de­ces­sor Smith said: “I think Ally’s han­dling it well. He had new play­ers at the start of the sea­son and there is al­ways a lit­tle bit of a prob­lem in try­ing to get these play­ers into your team.

“The Euro­pean games were dis­ap­point­ing, but the league form has been ter­rific. The con­sis­tency they have shown has been great.

“The next few matches are vi­tally im­por­tant. If you go into the sec­ond half of the sea­son at the top of the league, that’s a big thing psy­cho­log­i­cally.”

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