Sport Soccer

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Jelavic can replace Miller - Bougherra

Madjid Bougherra has backed Nikica Jelavic to score 20 goals for Rangers this season and fill the void left by Kenny Miller.

Miller netted 22 goals for the Scottish champions before sealing his move to Turkish outfit Bursaspor.

Jelavic made his long-awaited comeback from injury on Tuesday after almost four months on the sidelines.

The Croatian forward scored four goals before requiring ankle surgery and Bougherra has every faith in his ability to pick up where Miller left off once back to his best.

"It's going to be difficult to find a player who can score as many goals but I am very confident about Jelavic," he said.

"I think he can arrive at 20 goals by the end of the season.

"We also have Kyle Lafferty and James Beattie but I think Jelavic is a goalscorer more than Beattie or Lafferty.

"He is clever - his movement is very clever. He is strong so he can keep the ball. When he came here, he started to score goals quickly and he is very confident.

"Kenny is a very good player and he has scored many goals. He did a fantastic job.

"But Jelavic has come back and he is a like a new signing. I'm very confident about him and I know he is going to do very well.

"He can score many goals. He is a different type of player from Kenny Miller but he can replace him."

Jelavic suffered ankle ligament damage in a game against Hearts the last time Rangers travelled to Tynecastle.

But Bougherra believes the striker will be able to cope with a return to the same venue if selected tomorrow.

He said: "Sometimes you can maybe be very careful. He was injured four months ago on this pitch with this team.

"But I know he has a big motivation to score quickly. When I see him in training he is very hungry, to score, to play. I think he misses the pitch."

Boss Walter Smith is hoping to recruit a couple of players on loan until the end of the season.

But, as far as Bougherra is concerned, the squad is strong enough to successfully defend the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title even without the addition of fresh talent.

"I am confident we have enough players," said the defender, who was this week appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador while back in his native Algeria.

"Injuries might happen but I'm very happy because we can see the young players coming through - [Jamie] Ness, [John] Fleck, [Gregg] Wylde, [Kyle] Hutton.

"They are young but they have come into the team and shown they have the quality and can play for Rangers.

"We have enough players to win the championship."

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