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Smith: Rangers can handle fixture chaos pressure

Walter Smith admits success in Europe has probably made Rangers' task of retaining the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title that little bit more difficult.

But the Ibrox boss insists a dramatic and defiant last-gasp triumph over Sporting Lisbon has also shown his players are up for the battle again.

Smith wanted a positive reaction following last Sunday's crushing Old Firm derby defeat and that is exactly what he got as Rangers sealed their progression to the last 16 of the Europa League with an away goals win in Portugal last night.

Asked whether success on the continent this season adds pressure in terms of the SPL, Smith admitted: “I don't think there is any doubt that it does. We just have to try and make sure that we handle it.

“We are in a position where we don't have a big group. If not winning the league championship is a consequence of that, we just have to accept it.

“In the SPL games, our group have shown that there is spirit and determination.

“We are disappointed with the way we played in the Old Firm game on Sunday but we showed against Sporting Lisbon that we might be short of a few things but we are not short of desire.

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“That didn't really show in Sunday's game but it showed in Lisbon and has certainly shown in their play for most of the time I've been back at the club.”

Rangers already have outstanding fixtures to fulfil on top of at least two more European ties, against PSV Eindhoven next month, and Smith urged his players to rise to the challenge.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's SPL clash with St Johnstone, he said: “If we are going to do anything in the league championship we have to show a consistency that has maybe been lacking a little bit in us.

“We have to show consistency to keep winning in the championship. If there are a lot of games, we just have to get on with it.”

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