Scottish Cup finals are still an ode to joy for Smith

GLASGOW: Walter Smith says the joy of reaching a cup final is still the same as ever as he watched his Ranger side cruise to a 2-0 League Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone.

Steven Davis and Lee McCulloch got the goals and substitute Steven Naismith had a penalty saved as the Ibrox side clinched a place in the final against St Mirren, who they also meet in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday.

Since returning to the club in January 2007 the 61-year-old Rangers manager has led his side to five successive domestic cup final appearances.

But the veteran manager says the desire for more trophies still drives him on.

"Of course it does. We always want to try and get to the final. We meet St Mirren there and we play them in the Cup on Saturday and we seem to be playing each other quite a bit," Smith said.

"But now we are in the final we can enjoy that thought but it has to go directly to the background as we have Scottish Cup duty on Saturday and it is a big one for us.

"We have a good spirit and determination about us, there is no doubt about that.

"To reach every domestic cup final that we could over the past three seasons you need a little bit of luck.

"We've had that in quite a number of the games we've had."

Financial problems have dogged Rangers off the field for the past two seasons and Smith has been unable to sign any new players for 18 months while watching several key players depart the club.

He could only watch on jealously as Celtic manager Tony Mowbray brought in eight new signings during the January transfer window including Spurs captain Robbie Keane and Diomansy Kamara.

Rangers have had injuries to several key players in the past month with top-scorers Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller joining DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu on the sidelines while Madjid Bougherra has been away with Algeria at the African Nations Cup.

Despite this Smith has guided his side ten points clear of their Old Firm rivals at the top of the Scottish Premier League and they look on course for a potential domestic treble.

While hailing his squad's achievements so far the manager warned of the damage any new injuries could do to his already threadbare squad's chances of a treble.

"It is a fantastic achievement, it really is. We have our problems but as I said the one thing we do have is a good group of players," Smith said.

"What we are open to are the problems suspension and injury cause you. We've only got a small group of players and when we have injuries it puts a great deal of stress on those who are having to play every game.

"Now I think we are going to be through five midweek matches in a row which is difficult for a group like ourselves and it is difficult to demand a high level of performance in every one of them.

"That is where our squad deserve credit for having the attitude of overcoming the little bits of tiredness they are bound to feel.

"If you are at the Old Firm you have got to set out every season with a target of trying to win the domestic trophies.

"Trebles are never easy to win, I know that myself through past experience.

"So we will carry on as we are doing and try and win the games as they come along and hope that is good enough for us.

"This spell that we're having with the injury problems we have then if we do take more injuries it could ruin a season for us.

"But that is in the background now and we are enjoying the fact that we've got to the first cup final of the season and we'll look forward to that."