Derek Johnstone: Ally target must be six of the best

RANGERS find themselves facing a gruelling seven games in the space of 28 days throughout the month of December.

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Ally McCoist knows the next six games will be vital for Rangers
Ally McCoist knows the next six games will be vital for Rangers

But it is a period where at the end of it manager Ally McCoist should be aiming to have his side leading the way in Third Division with a healthy lead.

Everyone knows the Ibrox club didn't hit the ground running in the lower leagues at the beginning of the season.

Expected to lead the way from start to finish, that hasn't been the case after they failed to win any of their opening four league matches on the road.

Some of the performances weren't up to scratch and it definitely took longer than expected for some of the players to get their heads around the fact they were no longer operating in the SPL.

They didn't cope with the physical side of the game at the bottom level.

That is no longer the case now. The recent results have been far more convincing and it is now time for the team to attempt to string together a good run of results over a prolonged period.

I don't think that is asking too much of them.

On Sunday afternoon they take on Elgin City in the Scottish Cup and I fully expect them to come through that one without any problems.

After that, they have six league matches without any interruptions or distractions and it is a crucial spell.

Rangers should be targeting six wins from all six matches and if they can achieve that then I'm sure they will be well out in front by the end of it.

They could find themselves somewhere in the region of 10 points clear depending on other results.

When the club was placed in the Third Division everyone expected them to coast the league, but it has proven to be a whole lot tougher.

You have to give credit to the clubs in the division because they have been very well organised and raised their game against Rangers.

But there comes a point when the quality has to shine through and McCoist will want to take full advantage of having so many league games within a short period of time.

This is the perfect chance to really put a marker down in this division.

I know Ally doesn't have a huge squad of players at his disposal the way they used to in the past when they entered the months of December and January, but then again the other Third Division sides won't exactly be operating with 30-man squads either.

Also, this is a time when Rangers can make their full-time training ground.

The weather seems to have taken a turn for the worst in the last few days and if it continues a lot of these Third Division sides might have difficulty in finding training facilities.

They could end up being forced to train indoors and that isn't ideal whereas Rangers have undersoil heating at Murray Park, they have a huge indoor area and the adverse weather conditions won't trouble them the same way as it will other clubs. So December could turn out to be a very good month for Rangers.

First though, they need to get through to the next round of the Scottish Cup on Sunday. Can Rangers go all the way in the competition?

I think that would be asking too much but if they can progress to the quarter-finals or semi-finals then that would be a decent effort.

On their day, the Rangers players will feel they can cope with facing SPL teams but although they might not admit it I'm sure they would rather not face Celtic. But, first and foremost they will need to overcome Elgin City at Ibrox.

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