| 4.4°C Dublin

Weir wary of Celtic's strength in numbers

Rangers captain David Weir admits the influx of new players has given everyone at the club a lift ahead of the Old Firm Scottish Cup clash - even if it has not reduced the workload.

Manager Walter Smith enjoyed his most active 48 hours in the transfer market in years when he brought in David Healy, El-Hadji Diouf and Kyle Bartley.

However, he also released Andy Webster and loaned Blackpool James Beattie, who followed Kenny Miller out of the club.

Although Webster and Beattie have barely featured for Rangers, Weir was quick to point out that his team-mates are still at a disadvantage to fifth-round opponents Celtic, who have brought in more than a full team of players since Neil Lennon began rebuilding in the summer.

Weir said: "It's given us a lift in respect that they are fresh faces but we have also lost players, so it has not made the squad any bigger or given us any leeway.

"It's still a small squad but it has changed it around and it's a little bit different. There is no doubting the quality of the lads who have come in and it's up to them to show how good they are.

"We've lost James Beattie, Andrew Webster and Kenny Miller. Although we have brought three in, we have lost at least three. So we have just filled the gaps.

"Celtic have brought in 13 or 14 players so their numbers are up. Four or five out injured isn't a problem for them. They can adjust to that, but for us that's a major problem."

Ahead of Sunday's Ibrox clash with Celtic, Weir rejected the notion that Rangers' signings would prompt the players who were previously in place to raise their game to stay in the team.

"You should be doing that anyway," the 40-year-old said. "If you need someone to come in and do that, then you are in the wrong line of work.

"I think it just gives the team a little bit of impetus, a fresh face can change things a bit and just give the crowd a lift and the whole club a lift.

"It changes the scenarios and makes it a little bit more interesting."

A new dimension could be crucial after Rangers drew a blank in the most recent Glasgow derby. Celtic gained revenge for losing the first Old Firm encounter of the season when a Georgios Samaras double earned them a 2-0 win at Ibrox on January 2.

Celtic have since stepped up their form, scoring 11 goals in their last three games to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches.

"Celtic have been doing very well, they have been scoring goals and not conceding goals," Weir said. "They are flying and it's going to be a big ask for us."

When asked if Celtic were favourites, he replied: "I would think they are probably, based on the run they are on."

PA Media