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Walter on how important JCD could be


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COME in number dix neuf, your time is now. Ahead of Wednesday's Old Firm clash, Rangers' manager Walter Smith has pinpointed one player that he feels could play a substantial part in taking the Ibrox club to another league title, and it is the man who wears the number 19 shirt, Jean-Claude Darcheville.

The 31-year-old from French Guiana was signed on a Bosman from Bordeaux last summer, since when he has played in 20 matches , 11 of them as a substitute, scoring six goals in all, five in the league. It was as a substitute that he infamously missed a golden chance and earned a red card in the space of 20 minutes in Rangers' final Champions League match against Lyon.

On his game, there is no more potent attacking threat in the Rangers squad, and though no giant – officially he's 5 ft 8 ins (1.72m) – his 12st 4lbs (78kg) frame carries no spare flesh, and that muscularity and hustling, bustling style of play saw him dubbed in the earliest part of his Ibrox career as the ideal replacement for fans' hero Dado Prso.

But that early promise has not been fulfilled. Two bad injuries and a family bereavement have meant that Darcheville's season has been very much a two steps forward, one step back routine.

"We have not had Darcheville really at the level we would have wanted him this season because of a couple of different injuries and then the recent family bereavement," said Smith. "It's been a kind of stop-start situation with him. That's been my own biggest disappointment this season, that we have not had him on a more regular basis, because I just think he would help (Kris] Boyd, (Daniel] Cousin and others to settle into the team."

According to Smith, a fresh start for Darcheville could be one key to Rangers' success as the season progresses. "We are hoping that having him injury free and playing will help us a great deal," said the manager. "Put it this way – if we were getting him on a more regular basis in the second half of the season it would be a big thing for us."

No pressure on Jean-Claude, then. But Smith is a past master at getting inside a player's head, and perhaps he has decided to make public his views on the Frenchman pour encourager l'homme.


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