Ally McCoist insists Rangers will be back to their best in Tuesday's crucial UEFA Champions League qualifier against Malmo after watching his side get off to a stuttering start in the Scottish Premier League. The champions were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Hearts at Ibrox on the opening day of the season yesterday as McCoist's competitive debut as Rangers manager ended in frustration.
Rangers now host Swedish champions Malmo in Glasgow on Tuesday with the chance of qualifying for the lucrative group stages of Europe's premier competition at stake. Although Rangers were below their best against Hearts, McCoist insists his players will be well prepared for the Malmo match.
"I don't think I will need to lift the players for the match to be honest," McCoist said. "We played pretty well in the second-half and we have had a 1-1 draw against a team that are a pretty good side and are a lot of people's favourites to finish at least third in the league."
"So I don't think I will have to lift anyone. It will just be a matter of getting them regrouped and we get a look on Monday morning at the Hearts match video. We will certainly have a look at the opposition who are playing Helsingborg this weekend. We will have a report on that and first team coach Ian Durrant has watched them in the Faroe Islands as well."
McCoist has been linked with a host of names as he bids to bolster his threadbare squad and the Rangers boss says he is hopeful he will have new faces at the club before Tuesday to give his side a boost. "I would hope so. I've made no secret of the fact that we hope to bring one or two players in," McCoist said. "If we can get them in before the game only one of them can play on Tuesday but that would be great so we are certainly hoping to do that."
Palmero's Romanian international Dorin Goian looks the most likely to sign on Ibrox, but McCoist said the arrival of the defender wouldn't necessarily mean the end of their bid to re-sign Carlos Cuellar from Aston Villa "I haven't had the chance to see Andrew Dickson (head of football administration) after the game but I know there were one or two phone calls getting made this morning," McCoist said. "I am ruling nothing and nobody out. We certainly need players, plural, so I won't rule anyone out."
Rangers started sluggishly on Saturday as David Obua rose unchallenged to bullet a header past Allan McGregor from a Danny Grainger corner. Some of the Rangers players looked to still be in holiday mode as they struggled to cope with the pace of the match in what is the earliest ever SPL start date.
Steven Naismith finally equalised with a 57th minute header but Hearts boss Jim Jefferies, whose side are away to Hungarian side Paks in a UEFA Europa League qualifying match on Thursday, took encouragement from his side's performance.
"I'm not looking into anything league-wise at the moment. You don't know how you are going to do until after around eight or ten games, but if you are looking for a bit of encouragement then this is a great point for us," Jefferies said.
"But it's not just the point, it's the performance. Now we have to show we can build on the expectation for us to do as well as last year and it is encouraging when you see some of the players we have to come back from injury and suspension."