Walter Smith says he is relishing the prospect of an Old Firm League Cup final in March after Rangers booked their place with a narrow 2-1 win over Motherwell at Hampden on Sunday.
Rivals Celtic secured their ticket with a 4-1 thrashing of Aberdeen on Saturday and Smith's side joined them courtesy of goals from Maurice Edu and Steven Naismith either side of Keith Lasley's equaliser. The win means there will now be six meetings between the Glasgow giants this season with the sides scheduled to meet in next weekend's Scottish Cup fifth round to go along with their four fixtures in the Scottish Premier League.
But despite the frequency of matches between the pair this season Smith said it didn't take the shine off the fierce derby. "Will we play any other teams between now and the end of the season?" the Rangers boss joked.
"It's just good to get to a final regardless. Celtic had a good win to get there. It throws itself up like that at times when you have a circumstance where you have four league games to start and then you obviously have the opportunity to meet in cup ties. That's what has happened this year so we are going to have four between now and the end of the season.
"They have been decent games and the spoils have been shared so far this year so it'll be interesting to see how the four games pan out. But they will only be important if we continue to win against the rest of the teams as well. We've got a big game Wednesday night against Hearts and hopefully we get the boys together again and get ready for that."
At Hampden on Sunday Rangers took the lead in the 20th minute through a Edu strike from distance before Motherwell deservedly grabbed an equaliser in the 66th minute when Lasley drove the ball home from the edge of the box. But as Well pushed forward looking for a winner they were caught by a fast Rangers counter-attack and Nikica Jelavic crossed for the unmarked Naismith to head home with 15 minutes remaining.
Underdogs narrowly fail
Stuart McCall's side came close to forcing extra time in the 87th minute when Neil Alexander saved Steven Saunders downward header with his feet on the line. And Smith praised his former Rangers player for restoring the spirit to a Motherwell side demoralised by the departure of their former boss Craig Brown to Aberdeen.
"I felt they showed good spirit and determination in the game so Stuart's obviously got them back on track," the Gers manager said. "They are always a difficult team to come up against and it looks as if they are back to that kind of form."
Rangers have a tough fixture list in the coming weeks with the visit of Hearts on Wednesday quickly followed by an Old Firm Scottish Cup tie next Sunday before UEFA Europa League ties against Sporting Lisbon. Smith's already depleted squad was hit by the loss of top-scorer Kenny Miller to Turkish champions Bursaspor and he missed out on the signature of Scotland international Kris Commons to rivals Celtic.
Northern Ireland striker David Healy has signed on loan from Sunderland until the end of the season but the Rangers manager admitted he would like to add a defender to a squad that is competing on three fronts domestically as well as the UEFA Europa League. "We have been trying for the last days unsuccessfully apart from David Healy but we will continue to try," Smith said.
"If I can add to the squad again it would probably be a defender. Whether we will be successful or not we will have to wait and see. Healy is an out and out goalscorer. He is a lad who was keen to come to us and we're delighted to have him. We need that type of player in and around the box at the present moment."