RANGERS have taken two small steps ... now they must make the giant leap.

After safely negotiating their way through the bottom two tiers of Scottish football, their sights are set on a return to the league where they belong.

There have been a few bumps on the way as the Third Division and League One crowns have been won and silverware stored in the Ibrox trophy room alongside the most glittering titles on the club's illustrious honour roll.

The challenge to claim the Championship flag got that bit harder at the end of last season when it was confirmed that two of their former SPL rivals, Hearts and Hibs, would join them in the hunt for the winners' medals this term.

It has been a productive summer so far for boss Ally McCoist as he has added further firepower to a squad that was already well enough equipped to take the title.

And former Ibrox star Michael Mols is confident there will be no last minute hiccups as Rangers look to complete The Journey at the first time of asking in the coming months.

"It will be more difficult for Rangers this season," he told SportTimes.

"In the last two years they have been very much the favourites to win the title but now they are only one of the favourites with Hearts and Hibs in the league.

"It will be more of a challenge this season. But, fingers crossed, they can win the league again.

"Ally has made some good signings, especially Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller.

"Hopefully the players that are there can raise their game once again and the experience in the squad will help bring on some of the younger boys as well.

"Rangers do have a good squad and I am confident that they can make that next step and get into the Premiership.

"In Kris and Kenny, Ally has brought in not only a lot of goals but a lot of experience. The two of them will score a lot of goals for Rangers.

"They will be playing against better opposition than they have been in the last two years and having players like Kris and Kenny will be so important."

It may be a decade since Mols last pulled on the famous blue jersey but the Dutchman still keeps a check on the goings on at Ibrox, both on and off the field.

Last season, he watched on as McCoist's side stormed to the League One title, the champions ending the campaign undefeated having dropped only six points in a superb season.

Despite the success, McCoist still came under friendly-fire from the Ibrox stands for the manner of the performances and the perceived lack of chances for the next generation of stars to shine.

The likes of Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird are likely to play a key part for the Light Blues in the Championship and Mols is confident the Ibrox squad can handle the step up in class once again.

"It is important that the young players keep on progressing and keep developing themselves," he said.

"Some of them have played a lot of games for the first team and they will need to make that next step this season as well.

"There has been a lot of pressure on Rangers in the last two seasons to win the title. There is even more now because they are so close to the Premiership. They have to get to the next stage."

Mols added: "That is maybe why the manager doesn't want to take any risks with the players.

"When the league is won, there could be more of a chance for the younger boys and a chance to give them some experience and playing time. It is a difficult situation.

"It is hard for me to judge the players because I don't see them every day."

If Rangers can hold off a double challenge from the Capital and land the Championship crown, it would ensure they will play top-flight football for the first time since 2012 the season after next.

The road to recovery has been long, and often painful, for the Light Blues to travel and there remains plenty of work to be done before things return to normal at Ibrox.

Mols said: "The main thing for Rangers is to get back into the Premiership.

"It is going to be harder this year. When they get into the Premiership, it will then be easier to attract better players.

"Everyone wants to play at the highest level possible. It will be more difficult for Rangers this year but this is a very important season for them."