Smith awaits Bougherra explanation

Rangers manager Walter Smith is still waiting for an explanation from Madjid Bougherra for his late return from international duty.

Rangers manager Walter Smith is still waiting for an explanation from Madjid Bougherra for his late return from international duty.

The defender was expected to report back to Murray Park on Friday after helping Algeria qualify for the World Cup but failed to show on time.

It was the third time the Scottish champions have encountered the same problem with the highly-rated centre-half this season.

He returned late from international duty ahead of the goalless draw with Motherwell in September, before missing a game at St Johnstone a month later, claiming his possessions, including his passport, were stolen on that occasion.

“I’ll probably speak to him today at some stage,” said Smith, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League game against Stuttgart.

“It’s obviously a concern but it’s happened and we just have to handle it. We’ll just get on with it.

“We are not the first club it’s happened to and we won’t be the last.

“We’ve not selected the team yet and we will sit down and do that after training.”

Bougherra’s latest indiscretion could pave the way for 17-year-old Danny Wilson to make his second appearance in the competition.

He impressed on his Champions League debut against Unirea Urziceni and Smith has no fears about keeping him in the team for the visit of Stuttgart.

“If he is called upon to play, he is ready to play,” said the Rangers boss.

“He played very well in the game in Romania, which is never an easy place to go for a young boy to make a European debut.

“He handled that extremely well so there is no reason why he should be fazed by the prospect of playing in another one at home.

“He has shown he can come in and play and that’s the most important thing from our own point of view.”

Striker Kenny Miller has been baffled by Bougherra’s apparent reluctance to return to Rangers after representing his country and has told the defender there is no excuse for his behaviour.

“I don’t really know what is going on with Madjid not coming back,” Miller said.

“It’s something the manager will sort out and I’m sure whatever decision he makes will be the right one for the team.

“He seems happy enough in the dressing room and in training so I don’t see any reason why he would want to stay away.

“This week the circumstances, qualifying for the World Cup, are maybe a little more understandable than other times.

“But it’s still no excuse.”

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