Smith dreading McCulloch blow
Gers boss expecting bad news on midfielder's knee injury
By Elliot Ball - follow me on Twitter @ballell. Last Updated: February 7, 2011 9:13pm
McCulloch: Season in doubt
Walter Smith has confirmed he is preparing for the worst regarding Lee McCulloch's fitness.
"It could well be the case that Lee is out for the rest of the season and we're preparing for that aspect"
Walter Smith Quotes of the week
Sky Sports News earlier revealed the Rangers midfielder could be out for the rest of the season through injury.
Smith admitted McCulloch will visit a specialist on Tuesday to determine whether he requires surgery on the knee problem which prevented him from playing in Sunday's Old Firm derby.
The 32-year-old had been carrying a cyst in his knee since pre-season and playing through the pain barrier.
But after being ruled out of last Wednesday's SPL fixture with Hearts, fears were raised that McCulloch's campaign was over and Smith confessed he is bracing himself for bad news on the former Wigan Athletic performer.
He told Rangers' official website: "It could well be the case that Lee is out for the rest of the season and we're preparing for that aspect.
"If an operation is necessary, he'll be out until the end of the campaign but we'll see what the situation is once he has been assessed."
Rangers were twice pegged back by Celtic in the Scottish Cup clash at Ibrox and Smith says the absence of McCulloch had a big part to play as the fifth-round tie ended 2-2.
He added: "I don't think there's any doubt we missed Lee yesterday and the bit of stability he provides.
"If you were looking at him over the period, I think he was heading towards being our player of the year this year. His performances have been fantastic.
"Maurice Edu and Jamie Ness are different types of players but that's something we'll have to try to cover for in the latter stages of the season if we are to be without Lee."