ALLY McCOIST admits he feels a great sense of anticipation ahead of the forthcoming Championship campaign.

Rangers are expected to compete with Hearts, Hibernian and other leading second-tier clubs such as Falkirk for the title in the months ahead.

And the manager can already feel a great deal of eagerness in his squad brought on by the prospect of coming up against the two Edinburgh sides in particular.

The Light Blues returned for pre-season training last Wednesday and will go north tomorrow for friendlies at Buckie Thistle on Thursday evening and Brora on Sunday afternoon.

Preparations will continue with a Northern American tour that will last just under two weeks and which includes two fixtures in the USA followed by another pair in Canada.

A final trip to Derby County then comes on August 2, a week before the big kick-off against the Jambos at Ibrox seven days later.

Although there are still nearly six weeks until the League One title flag is unfurled and the action begins, McCoist has noticed excitement is already building.

He said: “The big talking point over the summer has been the addition to the Championship of ourselves, Hearts and Hibs.

“I’ve had a chat with the boys and we’ve had a good blether about what’s expected of us this season and how we see the competition and the games.

“There’s going to be a lot of focus on this season and there’s a real anticipation. I can feel it, not just from the players but from the fans and the staff as well.

“All being well, we can have a good pre-season and we can look forward to a very competitive and healthy start to the league.

“Hearts and – to an even greater degree – Hibs will have changed squads from last year and the change of management at both clubs will have a massive influence on their playing pools.

“The one thing the two Edinburgh teams both are though are really big clubs. There’s no doubt about that and we’ve enjoyed going there on numerous occasions.

“We’ve had some great tussles at Ibrox too and I don’t see next season being any different. It’s bizarre we are all in the second tier but that’s where we are at the moment.

“That’s the madness of Scottish football but it gives us an opportunity to pit our wits against two of the country’s great clubs and we are looking forward to that.”

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