Broadfoot fills Hutton void

Versatile defender seizes his chance

Broadfoot: Has impressed his boss

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Walter Smith feels that Rangers have hardly missed the departed Alan Hutton as Kirk Broadfoot has performed so impressively in his place.

Hutton completed a £9million move to Premier League side Tottenham during the January transfer window, leaving the Gers with a substantial hole to fill at right full-back.

Steven Whittaker was expected to be the one to step into the Scottish international's boots, but after picking up hamstring strain he has seen Broadfoot ably deputise in the last three matches.

The emergence of the versatile defender as a viable option in the back four has come as a welcome relief to Gers boss Smith, who believes that the opportunity is just reward for the hard work Broadfoot has put in on the training ground since the start of the season.

Enthusiasm

"He hasn't been at all fazed by coming in at this stage of the season after not playing a great deal and he has played very well for us," Smith said.

"He has deserved the opportunity for the hard work he has put in since the start of the season. He has never let the fact that he wasn't getting a game affect him. He has kept his enthusiasm and that has shown with the level he has played at.

"Taking Alan Hutton's position was always going to add to the difficulty of coming in. He was replacing someone who was doing so well for us.

Mentality

"But he has done that and although it is early days, the thing I like about him is that he is a versatile player who can play all the way across the back four for us.

"He showed at the start of the season that he has the mentality for it. He was asked to go in for a big European game away from home (a Champions League qualifier against FK Zeta) - it was an important game for us - and he handled that well.

"I had a feeling it would be just a matter of time before he got into the team and he is managing to do that now."

Title

Broadfoot looks likely to retain his place in Smith's side for the trip to Kilmarnock on Sunday, a game the Gers must win to ensure that they maintain their lead over rivals Celtic at the top of the SPL.

With the battle at the top so tight at present many expect the destination of the title to be decided by who fares best in the three remaining Old Firm clashes this season.

Smith though is refusing to take anything for granted against the other sides in the division and believes that his team must ensure that they do not get complacent in the coming weeks.

Challenge

"If people are saying it will come down to the Old Firm matches, does that mean we don't have to play the other games and they will just award us the points?" said Smith.

"It never is as simple as that. You can't have a situation where you can challenge for the championship and win it, as Celtic have done in the last two years, without earning it.

"You have to work really hard in a lot of the games to do that.

"I always find it strange that people always dismiss the efforts of other teams. We still have to overcome all the other teams before it comes down to the Old Firm results."