Football

Whittaker upbeat despite fan ban

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Steven Whittaker is confident Rangers can come through a tricky Champions League qualifier against Malmo on Wednesday night - despite not having the backing of any of their fans in Sweden.

Supporters were banned from travelling to the second leg as a result of sanctions imposed by UEFA who found the club guilty of charges relating to discriminatory behaviour by their fans last season. Rangers are trailing 1-0 from the first leg, with their hopes of progressing hanging in the balance, and could face another tough challenge at the Swedbank stadium.

Whittaker said: "It will be strange not having any of our fans there. The travelling support is usually great and they are always heard throughout the game. There won't be fans there but we will still be focused on trying to do the job at hand."

Rangers have now played two Clydesdale Bank Premier League matches, the latest Saturday's victory at St Johnstone, and Whittaker believes the early start to the league campaign could prove beneficial ahead of this clash.

He said: "The more competitive games you play, the better you will become. We will get there in terms of fitness and match sharpness. The games are coming thick and fast but hopefully that will help us.

"We've had a slow start to the season but we looked better at the weekend and we can take confidence from that into the game on Wednesday. It settled the whole squad down. It was our first win of the season and it just took that little bit of pressure off. Now we want to continue the winning streak."

The win at St Johnstone was Ally McCoist's first as Rangers manager and he admits the three points were vital before facing Malmo again.

He said: "It was very important because we had received some criticism for our opening two games, a lot of it justified, and it was important to get back to winning ways. One of the key things about our performance on Saturday was that we certainly started the game a lot better.

"In our opening league match against Hearts and in the first half against Malmo, I felt we didn't play particularly well.

"On Saturday against St Johnstone we started the game a lot better and we did look like a different team and we deserved the victory. We've still got a lot of improving to do but I feel we can do that."

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Topics:
European News
Football
Premier League
UEFA Champions League

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