‘Exciting times’ for Rangers as they stand on the brink of top-flight return

Rangers are eager to 'silence a few critics' as the only thing left standing between them and the Scottish Premiership is Motherwell, with the first leg of the play-off on Thursday.

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Glasgow Rangers assistant manager Kenny Black says the club’s players are proving their doubters wrong as they prepare for the first leg of their crucial play-off final against Motherwell.

The fallen Glasgow giants are aiming to regain their top flight status after an absence of three years following liquidation and their enforced demotion to the bottom tier of Scottish football in 2012.

Standing in their way is current Rangers manager Stuart McCall’s former club Motherwell after the Fir Park club finished second bottom of the Scottish Premiership.

The Ibrox club have come through two tough two-legged ties against Queen of the South and Hibernian to earn their place in the final and host Motherwell in the first leg of the final on Thursday before the return at Fir Park on Sunday.

Rangers had been favourites to win the Championship title at the start of the season but a disappointing campaign saw them finish in third. However, assistant coach Black believes their performances in the play-offs has silenced some critics.

“It is exciting times here – we have come through the four games to arrive at this play-off final and we’ve had to go through the ringer a little bit,” Black said.

“We have stepped up to the plate and silenced a few critics; a lot of people have had a little pop at the players and people might say rightly so but we have managed to get ourselves into the final.

“And now we’re two games away from getting the promotion that everybody connected with the club is so keen to achieve.

“If we can replicate the performance we put in against Hibs then we would be in a smashing position.

“The supporters have been fantastic and got right behind the players and we will be giving them the same again on Thursday and hopefully go to Fir Park with an advantage.”

Black also revealed that the club’s players will be kept away from each other in training in order to avoid any injuries ahead of the crunch ties.

“We were concerned coming into the play-off games that we could pick up a cruel injury but hopefully we will have everyone available for selection and the players will all be desperate to be involved,” Black said.

“We have to be really careful with how we train. We need to limit the amount of contact we have as well because we need to look to come through the games without any injuries and we certainly wouldn’t want to pick any up in training.”

Meanwhile, Motherwell striker Scott McDonald says his side will be underdogs for the matches against the Ibrox side as they bid to avoid relegation from the top flight.

However, the Australian international says he will relish the occasion and hopes his side can use their experience to help them see off Rangers.

“Everyone’s written us off and we’re happy to take that underdog status and go there and hopefully pull a few surprises out of the bag,” the former Celtic player said.

“It’s the type of game the players relish. I haven’t played in anything as big as this for a long time, probably since the last time I was up here.

“For me, it’s an excellent game to be involved in and a great challenge ahead.

“I’ve relished these situations in the past and I’m looking forward to it again.”

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