EXCLUSIVE: Ian looks to replicate Black maroon rising

JUST over four months ago, Ian Black climbed the iconic stairs at the National Stadium in what was to be his final duty as a Hearts player.

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Moments earlier, he had just completed a lung-bursting 84 minutes on the vast Hampden pitch, patrolling and at times rampaging over the top of rivals Hibernian in a historic William Hill Scottish Cup triumph.

Twenty eight weeks on, and the 27-year-old is preparing to step up once more to do battle for the oldest trophy in world football.

This time, though, the midfielder will be wearing the light blue of Rangers.

While Hearts kick off their cup defence against the same opposition they beat into submission to get their hands on it back in May, Black will instead be part of an Ibrox side attempting to overcome Elgin City in a fourth round tie at Ibrox.

With attempts at cup success this season ending prematurely courtesy of defeats to Queen of the South and Inverness Caley Thistle, Black and his Rangers team-mates have been left with only one avenue left to explore in a bid to prove the club can still cut it at a higher level.

And after experiencing the high of hoisting the 138-year-old piece of silverware aloft into the Glasgow sky just a matter of months ago, it's little wonder that Black is keen to savour success again with Rangers.

"It would be nice to do well in the Scottish Cup," said Black. "You want to do as well as you possible can in every competition you enter so hopefully we can secure a good result on Sunday and take things from there in the cup.

"Getting out of the Third Division remains our priority this season and it always has been, but you obviously want to do well in the cups.

"I don't see any reason why we can't enjoy a good cup run because we believe we have the quality here to achieve that.

"It will be a difficult game on Saturday. If it's one thing we've learned then it is that every match has the potential to be difficult and we know we'll have to perform well to make sure we progress into the next round.

"A lot of players at this club have played at the highest level. We train every day and our sessions are extremely competitive and of a very high intensity, so we know what is expected when we come up against SPL teams.

"We managed to step things up and play well in the Scottish Communities League Cup against Motherwell, but it was a disappointing result and performance when we faced Caley Thistle in the next round.

"However, we know we can play against anybody and hopefully we'll get a chance to prove that in the Scottish Cup."

Now several months into their quest to work their way through the lower leagues, Rangers seem to have got their heads around the fact they are now strutting their stuff in Irn-Bru Third Division against teams who treat every contest with the Ibrox club like a cup final.

After failing to win any of their opening four league matches on the road, they have now defeated both Clyde and East Stirlingshire away from home and sit with a two-point lead at the top of the table with a game in hand.

Black has been pleased with the recent results and hopes it is a sign of things to come for the rest of the campaign.

"The confidence has been building and we seem to have turned the corner away from home after picking up a couple of good victories on the road," explained the midfielder.

"Some of the boys didn't seem to realise how hard it was going to be away from home in the Third Division.

"It has taken a few games and a few kicks up the backside for everyone to realise how difficult it was going to be and I'm glad to say we have now knuckled down and managed to get things right and put a run together."

Black and his team-mates found themselves with no match over the weekend after their trip to Elgin City in the league was postponed after ticketing problems.

"It was disappointing that the game was called off, especially after we secured such a good result the previous weekend," said Black.

"When you are winning you want to keep that momentum going and it was frustrating.

"But the additional week has allowed guys who missed out against East Stirling to recover."

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