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Weir not going to make excuses

Stand-in captain David Weir said Rangers FC would not use their injuries, suspensions and daunting schedule as "a get-out clause" when ACF Fiorentina visit Ibrox.

David Weir will captain Rangers in Barry Ferguson's absence
David Weir will captain Rangers in Barry Ferguson's absence ©Getty Images

Veteran defender David Weir will be handed the captain's armband as he attempts to lead injury- and suspension-stricken Rangers FC to the final of a European competition for the first time in 36 years.

Decimated squad
The Glasgow club, who lifted the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup back in 1971/72, are without nine members of their first-team squad for the opening encounter with Serie A high-flyers ACF Fiorentina. Key personnel such as goalkeeper Allan McGregor, the hero of the Round of 16 victory over Werder Bremen, midfielder Lee McCulloch and winger Chris Burke are all nursing injuries while Kevin Thomson and skipper Barry Ferguson are suspended.

Fixture congestion 
Rangers' penalty shoot-out victory over Saint Johnstone FC in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday means they now face ten fixtures before the end of the season as they strive to become the first Scottish club to complete a domestic and European clean sweep since rivals Celtic FC in 1967. Manager Walter Smith was this week boosted by the news his side's league campaign will be extended until 22 May to accommodate the extra matches, but with one important caveat: only if they reach the UEFA Cup final in Manchester eight days earlier.

No excuses
Despite the testing circumstances, though, Scotland international Weir is adamant he and his team-mates will not fall victim to fatigue. "I don't think anyone on our side will talk about us being burned out," said the 37-year-old, capped 61 times for his country. "We are paid to play football games and we certainly won't make excuses. The fact we have a lot of games ahead of is not a get-out clause. Obviously, it is not an ideal scenario for us and I'm sure in a perfect world it's one we'd rather avoid, but we don't determine when we play or who we play against."

Resilient opponents
Fiorentina defeated Weir's former club, Everton FC, in the Round of 16 and he has already sought advice from former colleagues about the Italian side's strengths and weaknesses. Weir added: "I've spoken to a few of my friends at Goodison Park about Fiorentina and they've given me some insight. The Everton lads really felt they should have gone through, that they had done enough. Of course, they went out on penalty kicks and that's always tough to take, although it also shows what a resilient side Fiorentina are. The fact is, at this stage in European competition, every team is very strong and we know we will have to produce big performances over the two legs to progress to the final."

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