Rangers' Hutton ready to pass Red Star test

August 13, 2007

Alan Hutton insists Red Star Belgrade hold no fear for a rejuvenated Rangers side as they prepare for tomorrow's vital Champions League qualifier.

The visit of the Serbian champions comes hot on the heels of Saturday's 2-0 victory over St Mirren, which allowed Rangers to maintain their 100% start to the new Premier League campaign.

Manager Walter Smith has bolstered his squad with more than £8million worth of new signings, with the majority of those 10 arrivals having already been successful knitted into the team.

The sense of invincibility, which had once made Rangers such a powerful force before deserting the Govan side in recent seasons, is now back stronger than ever according to Hutton.

The Ibrox full-back points to a morale-boosting pre-season friendly win over Chelsea, claiming the victory over Jose Mourinho's men has set the tone for their competitive campaign.

Rangers overcame Montenegrin champions FK Zeta to book the meeting with Red Star in the final round of qualifying and Hutton has warned the one-time European greats to expect a team now brimming with confidence.

'With the squad we now have, I'd feel confident against anyone,' he said.

'We played Chelsea recently - a tough game against one of the best teams in the world - and we won.

'We proved to everyone that day how we can play and we can now stand up and be counted against any opponents, including Red Star.

'We have more depth and character in the squad now. The gaffer has instilled it in us and has also brought in quality.

'We have quality and we also have patience to await our chance. St Mirren set out their stall to defend and we know Red Star may do the same.

'They could come here and sit in. I'm sure it will be a really difficult game but, as we have shown, we now have the ability to make switches and break teams down.'

Rangers will take further confidence from a 1-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade in last year's UEFA Cup although a 17-point gap between the city rivals in the Serbian championship last term suggests a far stiffer challenge from Red Star lies in wait.

'I scored with a header against Partizan Belgrade last season - one of my very rare goals,' said Hutton.

'I am getting the chance to come forward more now, so maybe I'm overdue another one.'

Hutton's talents elsewhere on the pitch earned him widespread recognition in the latter part of last season and allowed him to nail the right-back berth as his own.

The 22-year-old now faces competition in the shape of Steven Whittaker, who has joined for £2million from Hibernian, and has the ability to operate effectively at full-back or on the right of midfield.

'Personally, I thought I did well at the back-end of last season and I want that to continue,' said Hutton.

'I've signed a five-year contract and I'm looking to the future and trying to improve all the aspects of my game.

'Steven Whittaker is here now and is an excellent player. I've grown up through the age groups with him and been in Scotland squads with him.

'He is a great talent and he will be pushing me, which is what I need. All players need to be pushed and it's a great challenge for me as well.'