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Darcheville far from fighting fit


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JEAN-CLAUDE Darcheville celebrated his 32nd birthday yesterday. You can only hope he left the cake to his friends.

With just five days to go before Rangers' first Champions League qualifier, the French striker is still a considerable way short of optimal fitness, and could do with losing a few pounds. A lingering injury may have hindered his attempts to reach peak form, but is surely not enough on its own to account for his almost corpulent appearance.

Darcheville displayed the odd touch of finesse in the 1-1 draw with Ajax on Tuesday night, such as the turn and cross from a tight position which produced a scoring chance for Kris Boyd. His most memorable action of the match, however, was an aggressive reaction to a tackle which led to his being yellow-carded - and which, following similar actions in other pre-season matches, has called into question his temperament.

Still, as he gets sharper, he should be able to overcome the frustration which he has displayed so far, and certainly Walter Smith is not concerned by his attitude since joining Rangers from Bordeaux last month. "Do you want me to buy somebody who doesn't bother?" Smith asked. "If the lad bothers enough, I'm happy.

"He has done all right for us. He's struggling a little bit with an injury, but he wants to continue, and I've been happy with the way he has played.

"I've got no concerns with anything else. He's an experienced player."

Smith went on to point out that the team he inherited at the start of this year from Paul Le Guen had been lambasted for its lack of hunger on the pitch, and implied that it was better to be a touch too aggressive than too passive. "Last season they were roundly criticised for not having enough passion in their game," he said. "I don't think we have a great deal of problems - we're working very hard to get a team together who will compete at a decent level."

Curiously, though, one player who has evidently worked very hard throughout the close season now finds himself behind Darcheville in the Ibrox pecking order. Filip Sebo, ridiculed by opposition supporters but a cult hero with Rangers fans, is now almost recognisable from a few months ago: partly because he has grown his hair, but more significantly because he has slimmed down, having undergone a rigorous fitness programme of his own before official pre-season training began.

"I feel much better than I did last season," the Slovakian striker said recently. "I lost some weight and I worked hard with my personal trainer during the summer break, so I'm really looking forward to the new season."

Sebo is almost a decade younger than Darcheville and is thus far less experienced. He came off the bench on Tuesday, but at present Smith seems to see the Frenchman and Boyd as his starting pair up front.

And, although Darcheville has done little to excite the fans just yet, he has apparently become a respected figure within the club. "Darcheville is a very big character in the dressing room and I am happy to play in the same team as him," said another new signing, the centre-back Carlos Cuellar. "He is a very aggressive player, but that is a good quality for a striker.

"He is strong and you need people like that in a successful team. When you see a teammate trying 100 per cent and giving everything to win the game then that spreads throughout the team.

"It inspires and makes everyone try harder in 50/50 tackles. His approach is the way it should be."

Smith said after the Ajax match that most of his squad were close to the level of fitness required for the beginning of the competitive season, and he has surely got his strategy correct by arranging games against the Dutch club and then Chelsea in the run-up to the Champions League tie with FK Zeta. Rangers should not need to be at the top of their game to see off the team from Montenegro, but they will need to be mentally alert, and the superior technical ability of Ajax and Chelsea will help them attain the required acuity.

A player of Darcheville's robustness may even prove a threat to the Zeta defence in his present state of repair. But if Rangers are to progress to, and then make an impact in, the Champions League proper, they will need their new striker to be slimmer, slicker and quicker

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for the benefit of foreign readers, could you list the author and source of these posts in future. Its interesting to read this little diatribe about JCD and how fat he is and his nasty temper and I'd be intrigued to see if this was a journo who spared the Pieman the same abuse during his time at Giroville.

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There's nothing wrong with being chunky if you are still fit. JCD isn't, but that is due to injure rather than a poor lifestyle!

His pace is still frightening for somebody who needs to be "quicker" if he wnats to play in The Champions League proper.

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I read that JCD has an achilles problem, if that's the case I don't think he should be playing until it has recovered, if it goes it would keep him out for months and we shouldnt be taking such risks

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