CHRIS Hegarty today revealed Rangers are bracing themselves for a battle in their Glasgow derby with Queen's Park at Hampden tomorrow.
The promising young defender has helped the Gers overcome their poor away form in the Irn-Bru Third Division during a nine-game winning run.
Ally McCoist's side is now 12 points clear of their nearest rivals Elgin after a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Clyde at Ibrox on Boxing Day. They are virtual certainties to take the title.
But Hegarty still believes Gers can slip up on their travels and is treating the game with the Spiders at the national stadium this weekend very seriously. He said: "I don't think that we can ever say we have addressed our issues away from home. Every game away from home is going to be different for us between now and the end of the season.
"Sometimes you are playing on artificial 3G pitches, sometimes you are going to a ground with a poor playing surface and then you could be playing in the wind and the rain like we were at Elgin at the weekend.
"But I think we know now what we are going to be up against. We know we are in for a battle every time we take to the field."
A bumper crowd of over 30,000 is expected to flock to Hampden for the final league game of 2012, which will be screened live on Sky Sports, and the home team is expected to rise to the occasion.
Hegarty, who was moved from centre-half to right-back to accommodate fit-again Ross Perry, believes the difficulties Rangers experienced away from home earlier in the campaign have galvanised the squad.
He said: "It has succeeded in making the team stronger, going to all these grounds and dealing with all these different conditions and scenarios.
"We know what we have to do. The young boys in the team, myself included, have learned a great deal from going to a variety of different grounds and playing in different conditions.
"We are taking positives away from these games and learning all of the time. I also think that these games bring you closer together as a unit."
Rangers left-back Lee Wallace will be available for the Queen's Park game after an SFA fast-track tribunal reduced the red card he picked up against Annan at Ibrox last week to a yellow on appeal.