Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Steven Davis hungry to be Champions League star with Rangers

Steven Davis

Rangers midfielder Steven Davis has said he is determined to make the most of this Champions League campaign after admitting it could be the last for some time.

The champions gained automatic entry to the competition this time around after clinching the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title last term but Scottish teams face a bigger battle to book their place among Europe's elite next season.

Only the SPL winners will have a crack at the Champions League and they will face the daunting prospect of qualifying, with Celtic and Rangers both failing to make the grade when faced with that hurdle in recent years.

Davis' experience of playing in Europe's top club competition has been limited so far and he is realistic enough to acknowledge he may not have many more chances.

“You never take anything for granted,” said the Northern Ireland international.

“They are great occasions to play in. I've only had one previous experience, last year, in the Champions League.

“That's where every player wants to play, at the highest level, and we are getting a chance to do that.

“Further down the line, it won't be as easy for Scottish teams to qualify.

“Hopefully we can make the most of it this year, especially with it being the manager's last year as well.”

With Celtic crashing out of both the Champions League and the Europa League, and Hibernian, Dundee United and Motherwell also out of Europe, Rangers are left flying the flag for the Scots.

But, with a group that kicks off on Tuesday with a glamour trip to Manchester United, and also includes Valencia and Turkish champions Bursaspor, Davis said: “There is no doubt we are going to be underdogs in the games. The money the other teams are able to spend and what they are getting from their leagues far outweighs what Rangers get.

“It's going to be difficult for us but we let ourselves down last time and we just want to go out and give a better account of ourselves and hopefully do better than we did last year.”

He added: “I don't know if there is ever a good time to play Manchester United, especially away from home. But if we can go there and get a result, it will do the confidence no end of good.

“Manchester United are a great club and they have a number of world class players so it's going to a very difficult match for us.

“But it's one I think everybody will be up for and hopefully we can go there and give a decent account of ourselves.”

Wayne Rooney may be the name on everyone's lips after netting in England's 3-1 win in Switzerland midweek.

But, as far as Davis is concerned, Paul Scholes is the one to watch on Tuesday night.

He said: “Rooney is a world class player and he is always going to be difficult to play against. He's had a couple of good games, including England away (in Switzerland).

“But I think there are a number of players you need to worry about with Manchester United, not just one, although he will be one of the key players.

“For me, Paul Scholes, as a central midfielder, has been one of the best players in the world for a generation now.

“Whenever you watch Manchester United and you watch players like Paul Scholes, you can do nothing but learn from players like that. He's been at the top of the game for a long time now.

“People maybe keep writing him off every season he continues but he has started this season on fire as well. He's a player you look to and hope you can pick things up from.”

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