Ally McCOIST has backed his Rangers players to prove they can handle the games they are expected to win just as well as they dealt with the Old Firm derby.
The holders travel to Falkirk tonight for the third round of the Scottish Communities League Cup as they begin their defence of silverware fresh from Sunday’s 4-2 win over Celtic. And McCoist feels his players are just as capable of coping with the burden of being labelled hot favourites against the Irn-Bru First Division side.
He said: “We’ve got good players and the vast majority have been with us for a long time and they have handled the majority of situations that have been thrown at them. Sunday’s game was a big game for everybody involved and they handled it fine. They now have to show they can handle a game which the vast majority of people would expect them to win so that’s a different type of pressure. But it’s a pressure that we have been accustomed to as well over the last few seasons and I don’t have any doubts that they will handle it okay.”
However, McCoist believes Rangers must be cautious of the threat posed by Falkirk if they want to continue their impressive record in the competition.
He said: “They are all games you’ve got to be careful of. We have generally had a reasonable record in the League Cup, without wanting to tempt fate. But every bit of success we have had, we had to work for. There is no doubt that will be the same for what will be a tough away fixture for us. It’s been a good tournament for us and it’s one, certainly in recent seasons, that we have done well in. It’s the first piece of silverware that’s up for grabs domestically so you want to do well in it.”
McCoist has slight injury concerns over Nikica Jelavic, Kyle Lafferty and Matt McKay but could shuffle his pack for the cup clash in any case. He said: “We have one or two players who can come in. We’ve got a little bit of strength in depth in one or two positions so it gives us the option to change it a little bit. There is an argument for saying the performance in the second half on Sunday merited more of the same so you can argue both ways but it’s nice to have that option.”