Rangers and Rovers in pursuit of Uefa Cup progress

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The Independent Football

Rangers and Blackburn renew the British challenge in the Uefa Cup this evening, with the Glasgow club hoping to break a European club record and Rovers confident they can win the tournament because of the strength in depth they routinely face domestically.

Rangers, who play Hapoel Tel Aviv in the last 32 tonight, set their European record of 12 games unbeaten in 1993, when they failed at the final hurdle to reach the European Cup final. As now, Walter Smith was the manager. Ally McCoist, now Smith's assistant, was then the club's free-scoring striker.

Rangers have already equalled that record, not having lost a European game over 90 minutes since a defeat to Internazionale in September 2005. After that they went unbeaten in four more Champions League group games in 2005-06, drew twice with Villarreal in the last 16 (going out on away goals), and have secured wins or draws from all six Uefa Cup matches this season.

"Some of Rangers' best performances have come in Europe this season," McCoist said. "I was unaware that the record could be broken in Tel Aviv - but that would be some achievement." Kevin Thomson and Ugo Ehiogu have been added to an already lengthy injury list as Rangers seek a lucky 13th result.

Blackburn's manager, Mark Hughes, was looking further ahead yesterday as his side prepared to face Bayer Leverkusen, who are seventh in the Bundesliga. "We feel we have a real opportunity to win the competition," he said. "We have not faced anyone we've had a real problem with. That's because of the quality and strength of the league we play in, week in, week out. We've also grown from the experience of playing in the Uefa Cup and our away form is good."

Stephen Warnock is eligible even though he played in the Champions League for Liverpool. Stephane Henchoz could make a first Uefa Cup appearance while David Dunn should be available despite suffering a dead leg in the 1-0 weekend defeat by Everton.

Christopher Samba and Bruno Berner are ineligible while Morten Gamst Pedersen and Matt Derbyshire are out, injured.

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