Beasley happy to fill in for Rangers

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The Independent Football

The Rangers winger DaMarcus Beasley insists it is a privilege to be a member of Walter Smith's Champions League challengers, even if he will not start every game. The American midfielder was relegated to the bench on Tuesday as Lee McCulloch took over on the left wing against Red Star Belgrade.

But Beasley came on in the 79th minute as Rangers secured the goalless draw in Belgrade which took them into the group stages, and insisted he is determined to make every minute count in Europe this season.

During his cameo Beasley helped Rangers slow down play, frustrating a Red Star side who barely troubled Allan McGregor in goal at a stage in the game when the visitors expected to be defending en masse.

"I'm happy that I'll be playing with Rangers in the Champions League," said Beasley. "It was our most important objective, as we were fully focused, as a group and as a team, on reaching the highest level of European competition.

"I'm not sad or anything like that because I only got my chance in the final minutes. We had a target in front of us, to keep our lead from the first leg and to build our success on it.

"Because everything went as we planned, there was no need for any big changes, so I'm all right with the coach's decision, like I always am," he added.

"Despite playing no more than 10 minutes, I'm really happy we've reached the group stages. That's something very important for all of us, the players, the coaching staff, the management and our supporters."

Beasley was a Champions League semi-finalist with PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and is sure to have a more prominent role to play during Rangers' group games.

Meanwhile, Smith and his players will be glued to coverage of tonight's draw, which takes place in Monaco, to learn who their three group opponents will be.

Smith also has an eye on the transfer market and there could be arrivals and departures at Rangers before the summer window closes tomorrow night.

One confirmed target, defender Dejan Stefanovic, has been told he can leave Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, admitted he would rather keep the former club captain at Fratton Park but confirmed he would not stand in the way of the 32-year-old if he can secure a good contract elsewhere.

Fulham are also keen on the Serbian, according to Redknapp, and if the deal comes down to wages the Premier League club may be in a strong bargaining position due to the benefits of their large television income.

However, the lure of the Champions League may tempt the player who began his career with Red Star and has since played for Perugia, Sheffield Wednesday, OFK Belgrade, Vitesse Arnhem and, for the last four years, Portsmouth.

Rangers continue to be linked with Kilmarnock striker Steven Naismith, but defensive reinforcements are Smith's priority.

The club have again stressed that a £1m deal has not been struck to sell defensive midfielder Brahim Hemdani to Osasuna, despite reports stating the contrary.

Smith is eager for Hemdani to be available for the remainder of Rangers' Champions League campaign, after he superbly shielded the defence on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Uefa general secretary, David Taylor, has reminded all clubs that issues such as racism, which encompasses sectarianism, are high on the agenda of European football's governing body.

Rangers have been fined by Uefa in each of the past two seasons for the conduct of their fans abroad – at Villarreal and Osasuna.

Their travelling supporters have been impeccably behaved so far in European competition this season, but Rangers – who have campaigned vigorously to banish sectarianism – are aware that any lapse could result in heavy punishment.

Taylor, a former Scottish Football Association chief executive, warned that all options are available to Uefa, who expelled Partizan Belgrade from this season's Uefa Cup and banished Feyenoord last year due to violent incidents involving their supporters.