The Sunday Post (Inverness)

We can make it a great night for Scots game

- By Sean Hamilton

Rangers fans will blow the roof off Rapid Vienna’s stadium if their side secures Europa League progressio­n. But Gary Mcallister reckons the rest of Scottish football ought to hail the Gers, too.

A victory in Austria on Thursday night will see Steven Gerrard’s side through to the knockout stages of their first European campaign since 2011.

With Celtic requiring just a point from their final group game with Red Bull Salzburg to reach the round of 32, Mcallister is aware of this week’s significan­ce for both sides.

But the Gers assistant boss believes it could also be huge for the Scottish game at large.

“What we’ve created is a cup final, isn’t it?” said Mcallister. “There’s no other way to look at it and that’s going to be the approach.

“It’s big for the club, the kudos that comes with it for the fans as well. And, thinking ahead, for the coefficien­t.

“For Scottish football that will be big.

“If both of us could get through, it would be a big night for Scottish football, no doubt about that.”

Asked whether the Gers’ squad had surpassed his and gaffer Steven Gerrard’s expectatio­ns in Europe, Mcallister’s response reflected the improvemen­ts made since the start of the season.

“If you had asked when we played Shkupi right at the beginning, I would have said yeah, but as we’ve progressed, we’ve done well and got to the group stages,” he said. “We know what we need to do now. It’s not a case of going in there and looking for a draw, we need to win and when we’re on the front foot it probably suits us better.

“The away record has been good, but also the performanc­e level. “The one for me is Maribor. I thought we were excellent because they are a good team, Champions League pedigree.

“I was impressed with the players that night and, especially from that performanc­e, the players grew and thought: ‘We can affect this competitio­n’.”

By the time Rangers face Celtic at the end of this month, they will have played 38 games – essentiall­y a full Premiershi­p campaign – in less than six months.

Mcallister admits that, on occasion, players have looked tired.

But meeting the demands of playing on multiple fronts is something Mcallister knows the importance of. The Premiershi­p, with its single Champions League place, remains a priority. “The demands on the players have been massive,” he said. “But what we’ve been trying to express to them is surely you’ve got to want that.

“Being internatio­nal footballer­s as well, we’ve got guys who in between all these European ties and domestic games, they have had to go and represent their countries as well. “If we’re fortunate enough to get to these stages next season, we want to get into the groups and – maybe in a different competitio­n.”

 ??  ?? Gary Mcallister and Steven Gerrard
Gary Mcallister and Steven Gerrard

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