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Strength in depth key to Rangers in aftermath of draw

Rangers 1-1 Hamilton

By Andy Newport

Rangers may have fluffed their lines on the first day of the season but skipper Lee Wallace believes the Light Blues' supporting cast will be vital if they are to stick to the script of a title challenge.

The Ibrox outfit were struggling to get going after falling behind to Ali Crawford's sensational Hamilton opener on Saturday.

But the introduction of Harry Forrester after an hour gave Gers renewed spark, with the former Doncaster playmaker setting up Martyn Waghorn to rescue a point for Mark Warburton's team.

The boss started with three of his nine summer signings against Accies - Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Clint Hill - but also had the option of using Michael O'Halloran, Jordan Rossiter, Jason Holt and Joe Dodoo from the bench and Wallace believes that strength in depth will be crucial this term.

Speaking after the 1-1 draw, the Rangers captain said: "The positive is that when we look at our bench, we have the kind of options we didn't have last year when numbers were short.

"It was a really strong bench - probably one of the strongest we have fielded in the manager's reign here.

"That's great because we know teams are going to work so hard to stop us like Hamilton did.

Gers may need to turn to their understudies in the coming weeks after seeing last year's top scorer Waghorn limp off with a hamstring injury eight minutes from time after chasing a long Wallace throw into the corner.

But Wallace is optimistic the injury is not as bad as first feared.

"I think Martyn is all right," he said. "He was more upbeat after the game than he was coming off the pitch, so we're positive on that front."

Crawford swept Accies ahead after 30 minutes after making a fool out of Kranjcar at the back post and was happy to spoil Gers' league flag party following last term's promotion.

He said: "We knew it was going to be tough coming here. They were unfurling the flag and the atmosphere was going to be electric, so it was up to us to kill that. My goal quietened the place and gave us something to hold on to."

Meanwhile Dave King is confident Rangers can mount a credible title challenge to Celtic after watching the Ibrox side make their top-flight return.

The club chairman was back in Glasgow for Saturday's clash with Hamilton and received a huge roar as he unfurled the Ladbrokes Championship flag following last term's promotion triumph.

The South Africa-based businessman was left in no doubt the Light Blues will find it tougher this time after a determined Accies side earned themselves a 1-1 draw in the Ladbrokes Premiership curtain-raiser.

However, King was clear when he outlined his belief that manager Mark Warburton has a squad capable of taking on Brendan Rodgers' Parkhead outfit for the main prize this season.

He told RangersTV: "Today felt like the club was back, I thought the occasion was fantastic, the energy, the support, the crowd and the buzz."

Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Hill, Wallace,  Kranjcar (Forrester 61), Barton, Halliday (Rossiter 76), Waghorn, Miller (O'Halloran 61), McKay.

Subs Not Used: Dodoo, Hodson, Holt, Gilks.

Goals: Waghorn 62.

Hamilton: Matthews, Gillespie, Kurakins, Sarris, Devlin, Donati (Lyon 68), Imrie, Docherty (Hughes 90), Crawford, Longridge, D'Acol (Brophy 45).

Subs Not Used: Boyd, Woods, Cunningham, Want.

Booked: Devlin, Sarris, Kurakins, Crawford, Donati.

Goals: Crawford 30.

Attendance: 49,125

Referee: Don Robertson.

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