RYAN JACK has tried, tried and tried again in the Europa League and come up short on each occasion. This time, he hopes it will be different.

The midfielder needs no reminding of how tricky it is to plot a path through the early rounds of continental competition. He has his own tales of woe, personal feelings of what might have been.

At Aberdeen, the hurdles of Real Sociedad, Kairat Almaty and Maribor proved too great to overcome. Last season, Rangers fell at the first on that night in Luxembourg.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: There will be no complacency in Rangers squad after Ibrox additions this summer

Having safely negotiated their way past FK Shkupi last week, the Light Blues are now preparing for their second challenge and the meeting with NK Osijek tonight.

If there is to be progression in the Europa League, Steven Gerrard’s side must take another step forward in terms of their performance against the Croatians.

And Jack hopes he will soon be in unchartered territory as the Gers look to move through the rounds and build some momentum in the coming weeks.

“Over the last few days we have been working hard on the attacking aspect of our play and hopefully that will pay dividends for us,” Jack said.

“At the moment the games are coming thick and fast. We’ve had time to sit down and analyse what we did well in the last two games and what areas we need to improve on.

“We never scored over there so we know we need to improve the attacking side of our game.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: Rangers won't underestimate Osijek challenge in Europa League clash

“These things don’t happen overnight and it will take time. We’ve got a new squad with a few new additions to the forward line. It will come but it will take time.

“Every year I always want to go further than I did the year before. If we do get further or we get to the group stages it would be a big achievement but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves and get carried away.

“We just need to look at the job in hand every round. We know this will be a tough one so, if we get through this one, we will look at the next one.

“Personally, you always want to do better than you did before. Getting knocked out the year before is disappointing. You come back the year after and you want to do better. You want to come as far as you can.”

It is a case of one game and one tie at a time for Rangers as Gerrard’s side look to get up to speed as quickly as possible this term.

Maribor are likely to lie in wait in the third round if the Light Blues can find a way to overcome Osijek tonight and at Ibrox in seven days’ time.

Jack has mixed memories of the Slovenian side but can recall with fondness his previous trip to Croatia on European duty as the Dons beat Rijeka.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: There will be no complacency in Rangers squad after Ibrox additions this summer

He said: “It was a big result that night. I don’t know too much about the Croatian league so I don’t know if the teams are similar but Rijeka were a really good side. It’s probably one of the biggest European nights I have had in my career.

“In the first 10-15 minutes, you knew that you were away from home, they had a big crowd and they were going to come out of the traps and try to get ahead early doors. You ride that storm. You stick together.

“You believe in each other. And it just shows you what can actually happen and the result you can get away from home in Europe.

“It was disappointing [against Maribor]. I thought Aberdeen were the better side but to go out again at the same stage was frustrating. You just need to come back the year after and try as hard as you can.

“A lot of things happened in that 90 minutes. Joe Lewis missed the pass back. It was disappointing. These experiences just make you more determined when you play in Europe the year after.”

Rangers have already made it one stage further than they did last term after they ensured Shkupi didn’t take up an unwanted place in the record books alongside Progres Niederkorn.

That won’t satisfy Gerrard or his players, however, and supporters are expecting another tie to be chalked off against Osijek.

It is at the highest level of European competition that Rangers must always aim but Jack won’t look too far into the future.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: Rangers won't underestimate Osijek challenge in Europa League clash

He said: “Everyone has been talking and saying what they expect but there is only one thing to do and that is for us to go and prove it on the pitch.

“There is not much point in talking and saying we are going got do this, we are going to do that, we want to be back here … it is down to us on the pitch as a squad and as a staff to go and do it. The less talking the better.

“I feel we’re probably where we should be at the minute but there’s always room for improvement. The squad is full of talent, we have a new coaching staff to help us along.

“A lot of new faces have come in and it will take time to gel and get used to that but these trips always helps that situation in pre-season. We are where we look to be but going forward we still look to improve.”

Rangers have a chance to show signs of that improvement in Osijek this evening as they attempt to take a positive result back to Ibrox for the second leg.

As the games are won and the ties are drawn, the standard of opposition inevitably increases. The challenge for Gerrard’s side is to raise their game week on week.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: There will be no complacency in Rangers squad after Ibrox additions this summer

“It will be a step up in class, we know that,” Jack said. “But over the course of pre-season and, of course the last round, we’ve had decent work-outs so we’re happy with where we are at the moment.

“There is always room for improvement and this will be a harder ask than the last round.

“But we’ve really stepped things up in training these past few days. We need to make sure we’re fully ready and I believe we are.

“It’s a tight turn around but we have watched a video of them and there are a few players who look as though they could hurt us.

“They have a few internationals in their team but then so do we so it’s absolutely nothing to fear.

“It will be a step up in quality but I think we have more than enough to deal with it and I know we can hurt them.”