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Crucial period for the Champions

Wesley Sneijder draws Rangers FC

THE three match packages are nearing sell-out. Excitement is rising. Rangers home European conquest is about to begin for another season.

Three mouth-watering ties against the Turkish champions Bursaspor, Spanish cracks Valencia and Premiership giants Manchester United await Walter Smith’s side in the coming few months.

Amid the obvious excitement for the Ibrox faithful, there is an underlying concern. The fixture pile-up discussion that was extremely prominent in the tail end of the 2007-08 season is resurfacing, albeit not to the same extent.

Rangers face a gruelling schedule leading up to the first Old Firm derby at Celtic Park on October 24th, with a Co-Op Cup tie against Dunfermline Athletic, then tough away ventures to Aberdeen and Hearts before Craig Brown brings his Motherwell side to Govan.

Oh, did I mention two Champions League games at home to Bursaspor and Valencia sandwiched in between?

These run of games are always crucial in a season and could give us an indicator as to which side of Glasgow the SPL trophy is headed this term.

With the relatively threadbare squad Smith has it has disposal, any injuries or suspensions picked up in this period could be costly. The on-fire Kenny Miller, with his eight goals in five SPL games, will hope to continue that form to strike the Gers to glory on both the domestic and European front. With new signing Nikica Jelavic ineligible for Euro duty, the pressure is on Miller to deliver.

At the tender age of 40, Rangers captain Davie Weir will need a rest at some point, you would assume. Tuesday night’s home tie to Dunfermline Athletic may present such an opportunity, with the seemingly always injured Andy Webster ready to fill in.

The constant Saturday-Tuesday/Wednesday schedule that the Gers will have to contend with may hinder their quest for three in a row and the League title, the most important trophy to the Club and its supporters.

Whether players like James Beattie and Kyle Lafferty can deliver if Miller, Jelavic or Naismith pick up a knock remains to be seen.

However, the impressive displays of young Vladimir Weiss has caught the eye of many. Perhaps the Slovakian winger could be just the man to relieve the pressure of front men Miller and Jelavic as Rangers battle on four fronts.

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