Steven Gerrard welcomed a Europa League group stage draw that pitches Rangers against “established” teams in the shape of Villarreal, Rapid Vienna and Spartak Moscow.
The Rangers manager said it was a deservedly attractive group after the effort expended in qualifying. Rangers secured a 1-1 draw in eastern Russia against Ufa to secure a place in the group stage despite finishing the game with nine men. They are one of only four teams to reach the group stage having played in the first qualifying round.
“Thinking about it before the draw I was hoping the players would be drawn against teams with a name and stature,” said Gerrard. “They can go and rub shoulders with top players and play in nice stadium and really enjoy the experience. Having said that we want to go and compete – this is not just about getting Europa League experience.
“We know that’s vital for the players individually but for me we have to go and test ourselves against the best. It’s fantastic for the supporters in terms of the locations they will be able to travel to support the team.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better draw – three established teams with a lot of experience. We are delighted.”
Rangers kick off their group campaign against Villarreal in Spain on 20 September and round off the group stage in December in Vienna.
Meanwhile, Gerrard confirmed that Nottingham Forest centre-half Joe Worrall has signed for Rangers on a one-season loan deal.
“He’s a central defender, he’s 6ft 4in, he’s got a nice profile for a defender,” the Rangers manager said. “He’s an under-21 international, so he can play. He’s hungry to play football and disappointed that he wasn’t in the frame at Forest.”
Rangers have also had a work permit application accepted for Albanian winger Eros Grezda, who has signed from Croatian side Olijek on a four-year deal.
l Rangers shareholders have backed proposals for a £12.6 million share offer. The decision came after a general meeting at Ibrox.
The resolution was resoundingly backed by shareholders with 84.4 per cent voting in favour.