Philippe Senderos has expressed his determination to be ready to make a high profile competitive debut for Rangers at Celtic Park next week.
The Swiss international central defender signed a one-year contract with the Ibrox club yesterday, becoming the 11th new player recruited by manager Mark Warburton during the summer transfer window.
Senderos, 31, who was a free agent after being released by Grasshoppers Zurich at the end of last season, will join his new team-mates for a trip to Belfast this weekend when they face Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday in a testimonial for Northern Ireland international midfielder Jamie Mulgrew.
The former Arsenal player is keen to persuade Warburton he can then be pitched into the first Old Firm showdown of the season when the Scottish Premiership campaign resumes on 10 September.
“That’s the kind of game everyone wants to play in,” Senderos told Rangers TV. “Hopefully I can have a good week of training and then we will see from there.
“This is why you come to such a big club, though, to play in those kind of games. It is right up there with some of the best derbies in the world. I am expecting a lot of noise and the whole city vibrating to this game.”
Senderos spent two weeks training with Rangers’ first-team squad earlier in August and became a priority signing target for Warburton when a move for former Aston Villa defender Joleon Lescott collapsed.
“The plan was always for me to get things sorted [back in Switzerland] and then travel with the team to Belfast and see from there,” added Senderos. “I can’t wait to get started now everything is done and sorted, so I can go there and start focusing on what I really need to do. I’m delighted to have finally signed, I’m really pleased and I can’t wait to crack on.
“As soon as I had the opportunity to come up here and train I said ‘yes’. It is a massive club. When I had the chance to come up here and train and join such as big club, it was a no brainer for me.
“I can come up here and show that I can be part of this team. It is a brilliant place, a brilliant opportunity for me and I grabbed it.”
Capped 57 times, Senderos returned to Swiss club football in January this year in a bid to earn a place in his country’s Euro 2016 finals squad, having appeared for them at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals. He failed to make the cut, however, and is now targeting silverware under Warburton at Rangers.
“He’s a big factor in me joining this football club,” said Senderos. “He’s got big ambitions, he might not say them in the interviews, but within the team there is a lot of belief in this group and, for sure, we want to compete for the top place.
“We know it’s a big task at the moment, but we are up for the challenge and we have the belief within the team. That’s what we have to carry onto the football pitch.
“I expect tough games with all the teams though. I have seen already the last few games since I have been here, and it is very difficult to play as everyone is expecting Rangers to come out and to try and play their football.
“If the other teams sit back and make it difficult for you, it’s going to be hard to break down. You have to find solutions though, and that’s where experience and quality comes into play. Hopefully we can do that and manage that in those games.”
As Senderos arrived at Rangers, there was a departure for midfielder Andy Murdoch whose contract was terminated by mutual consent. Murdoch, 21, was a first-team regular under Stuart McCall at the end of the 2014-15 season but fell out of favour following Warburton’s arrival.