Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Rangers' Champions League dream still alive, says Davis

Steven Davis believes Rangers can still progress to the Champions League

Steven Davis is refusing to give up hope in Rangers' “uphill struggle” to progress past Swedish side Malmo in their Champions League qualifier.

Malmo take a 1-0 advantage into next week's second leg thanks to a Daniel Larsson strike at Ibrox on Tuesday night.

Northern Ireland international Davis declared: “We've given ourselves an uphill struggle.

“If you go a goal behind, it gives them something to hold on to.

“In the second half they sat back and we had a lot of possession and created a few chances but it wasn't to be.

“Obviously it was not the result we were looking for and everybody's disappointed.

“But we'll go over there and try to progress. If we get a goal then everything looks a bit brighter.

“The good thing is that we created a few chances, so we need to take them in the second leg.”

Malmo's domestic campaign is well under way, while Rangers' only other competitive match so far was last week's 1-1 draw with Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. But Davis refused to blame their poor showing on lack of match action.

The Cullybackey man added: “I think that's the easy option to take and we're not going to use that as an excuse.

“But we will get stronger as the games go on.”

Meanwhile, Dorin Goian believes he has made a positive career move by joining Rangers despite watching them crash at Ibrox.

The Romanian international sealed his move to the Scottish champions from Palermo earlier this week.

The 30-year-old is still waiting for a work permit and international clearance to be granted, meaning he had to settle for a cameo appearance when he was paraded on the pitch at half-time against Malmo.

There was little else for frustrated fans to cheer on a night when Rangers slumped to defeat but Goian refused to let the result dampen his enthusiasm about his switch to the Glasgow giants and he remains confident about their ability to salvage the tie.

The defender said: “My first impression is very good. I like the stadium and the people.

“It's the first game I have seen here but I like it very much.

“We had a bad score but in the second game we will do better and we hope to win in Sweden.”

He added: “I came here to a big club, a big club in Europe with a big history and, for me, it is a step forward and I am honoured to be a Rangers player.”

A question mark remains over Goian's eligibility for the second leg, with Rangers hoping he will be able to travel with the rest of the squad for next Wednesday's game if the necessary paperwork is granted in time.

Goian said: “I hope that it comes in time and I hope I play but that depends on the papers.”

Rangers are sweating over the fitness of skipper David Weir, meaning boss Ally McCoist would ideally like Goian available for this weekend's Premier League game at St Johnstone, as well as the European outing.

He said: “We are not sure if he will be available for us for this weekend but we are hopeful. We are waiting for clearance.

“There is a slight problem but we hope he can play in Malmo.

“I don't know exactly, there is some red tape, but we are very hopeful he can play.”

Juan Manuel Ortiz and Lee Wallace were the only new recruits available for Tuesday night's game.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor — who signed a new long-term contract recently — said: “I suppose we do need fresh faces after losing a lot of boys from last season.”

Asked whether match-sharpness was the main difference between the sides, McGregor said: “If we win, then it won't make a difference.

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