The Rangers FC manager Walter Smith says there will be "no fear factor" when the Scottish league leaders face their unbeaten English counterparts in Group C on Wednesday.
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The Rangers FC manager Walter Smith says there will be "no fear factor" when the Scottish Premier League leaders take on their unbeaten English counterparts in Group C on Wednesday. Unlike third-placed Rangers, United remain in control of their UEFA Champions League destiny and Sir Alex Ferguson could welcome Wayne Rooney back into his starting XI for the first time since 26 September as he looks to cement a top-two finish.
Walter Smith, Rangers manager
From the start this year, our aim was to keep ourselves involved in Europe after Christmas. That's still there, it's still within our grasp. If we can achieve that, it would be terrific for us. I think the Champions League overall has been good for us in terms of confidence. Our performances have been better than last year and that is certainly encouraging, but this time we're going against the club who are the best side in our section.
We'll have our work cut out and we are aware this is a big challenge that we have to stand up to, but there's no fear factor. It's something any footballer – and any manager – would look forward to. There's always expectation on you at home and you always want to go and win. But when you're in the Champions League, it's not that simple. Manchester United are one of the most experienced teams in the competition. I heard some pundits recently saying they're not playing well yet they haven't lost any games. It shows the standards at that club are extremely high.
Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager
Our form away from home in the Champions League over the past couple of years has been pretty good. Hopefully we can continue that. It's an interesting situation in this game and it's one we have to take seriously. If Rangers win, then we would have to beat Valencia – providing they defeat Bursaspor, as I'd expect. I saw Rangers' last home game in the group, against Valencia, and they could have scored three or four goals. I expect they will look to play in a similar pattern. It's a big incentive for Walter to get into the next stage of the Champions League.
Wayne [Rooney] is in good shape. He obviously needs some football which he hasn't had a lot of. This game is an ideal opportunity for him, too, in terms of getting back to the right level. It's a big match, on a terrific pitch and in a great atmosphere. It's a good platform for a player of Wayne's ability, and hopefully we can get him back to his best pretty soon.
Smith will give Saša Papac "every opportunity" to prove his fitness after a head injury, and will change his system from the 5-4-1 adopted in Europe this season should the defender not make it. "That's not a big problem," said Smith, who is also without Madjid Bougherra (hamstring), Maurice Edu (knee), James Beattie (hip and thigh) and Andy Webster (groin).
• Manchester United
First-choice centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić are rested so Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans could come in. Wayne Rooney (ankle) returned as a substitute at the weekend after more than a month on the sidelines. Darron Gibson, Gary Neville, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen all missed training on Tuesday, while Darren Fletcher "got a little knock on Saturday" and is missing.
20/11/10 Kilmarnock FC 2-3 Rangers
(Sammon 21 59; Miller 42pen 55pen 64)
Kenny Miller struck his second hat-trick of the season and has now registered in 11 of Rangers' 14 league matches this term, 18 in all.
20/11/10 United 2-0 Wigan Athletic FC
(Evra 45+1, Hernández 77)
Patrice Evra's goal was only his second in the league for United on his 147th appearance and his first since 29 November 2006.
Did you know?
Sir Alex was a boyhood Rangers fan who later played for the club, scoring 35 goals in 66 outings in all competitions between 1967 and 1969. Rangers manager Smith was Ferguson's assistant when he led Scotland at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and also served as his No2 at Old Trafford in 2004.
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