LEWIS MACLEOD has never got a chance to finish what he has started in the last two seasons.

Now the Rangers star is determined to get himself back in Ally McCoist's plans after making significant strides in his latest fight for full fitness.

In his first two campaigns in the Ibrox first team, Macleod has shone in the opening months before being forced to watch on from the sidelines as the Third Division and League One titles have been claimed.

A knee injury ruled him out for the closing stages of the 2012/13 season before a virus floored him last term and caused real concern amongst Gers coaching staff and fans.

He returned to action on Wednesday alongside the rest of McCoist's side and came through the fitness tests with flying colours.

In his absence last term, Ian Black and Nicky Law nailed down regular berths at the heart of the Ibrox midfield and the Scotland Under-21 international knows he has another fight on his hands as he gears up for the new season.

Macleod said: "It's always hard to get back into the team and in the last two seasons I've had bad injuries for long spells.

"After the first one when I hurt my knee, I was able to come back into the team and I feel I did well last year.

"Hopefully I can do the same again this season and make a good impact because I'm looking forward to the new campaign."

After starring in Scotland's bottom two tiers in recent years, the step up into the Championship will give Macleod another chance to grow his burgeoning reputation as one of the finest young talents in the country.

He has turned in a series of superb showings for McCoist's side in the last two seasons, excelling in a central role and wide on the left of midfield.

Ahead of a tough second tier campaign, Macleod is confident Rangers can thrive once again as they look to complete the third stage of their journey back to the top flight.

He said: "On paper, the Championship looks good and we're all hoping it lives up to expectations.

"It'll suit us a lot better as more football will be played.

"Teams attacking us more will suit our style of play as we can hit them on the counter and all the boys are relishing the challenge."

Before Rangers can focus their attentions on the mouth-watering opening weekend clash with Robbie Neilson's Heart, the Light Blues must negotiate a packed pre-season schedule in the coming weeks.

McCoist will take his squad to the Highlands next week for matches with Buckie Thistle and Brora before they jet across the Atlantic for a four-game tour of North America.

With Kenny Miller and Darren McGregor already added to McCoist's pool, the Gers must hit the ground running when the action gets underway.

The Ibrox side have rarely been tested in recent years but Macleod insists they have what it takes to challenge in Scotland's second tier.

"Hopefully people will get to see what we're all about next season but you could argue people have had a glimpse of it already," he told rangers.co.uk

"I thought in spells of the Dundee United game last season we played good football and we're hoping to produce more of that in the months ahead.

"If teams attack us, it'll hopefully be easier for us to hit them on the break so that we can make more chances."