Steven Davis believes the Co-operative Insurance Cup can be the first trophy of a domestic treble for Rangers this season after they cruised into the last four of the tournament.
Hamilton manager Billy Reid admitted his young side were simply outclassed at Ibrox on Tuesday night as goals from Kris Boyd and Kyle Lafferty sealed a comfortable win. The 2-0 victory saw Rangers remain on course to retain the trophy they won in dramatic style back in March, with the domestic competitions taking on even more significance this time around following a shock early exit from Europe.
"It's the first chance to get silverware for the season and we definitely want to win it," said Davis. "Going out of Europe was a major disappointment. We want to concentrate on the three domestic trophies and hopefully this can be the first one. We are still a bit off it but we are just glad to get through to the semi-finals and be in with a shout."
Hamilton shocked Rangers by claiming the opener in Saturday's Premier League clash at New Douglas Park, before eventually succumbing to a 3-1 defeat, but never looked like causing an upset last night.
"The boys are delighted to go through," added Davis. "We all want to do well in the competition. We are the current holders and we want to try to retain it this year, and we thought we deserved to go through. We expected them to get men behind the ball and make it difficult for us. We had to bide our time a little bit and keep the ball moving and I thought we did that well. We created a number of chances and possibly could have won by a bigger margin."
Reid is well aware the gulf between Rangers and Celtic and the rest of Scottish football is unlikely to change any time soon and was willing to write the tie off as a valuable learning experience. "It's the same every season, the top two is the top two and everybody knows that," he said. "We're not judged on these games. But you want to put up a decent performance and, in the final third, we didn't get high enough up the park to hurt Rangers. We had to contain them. If we didn't they would have just scored more goals. It was a learning curve for us."
Meanwhile, Walter Smith has refuted reports Steven Smith is set to leave Rangers but admits the full-back is likely to be farmed out on loan once fully fit. Smith is currently working on his match fitness in the reserves after enduring a series of injuries over the last couple of years.
"He has been out for a couple of years and when he gets a level of fitness, he may have to go on loan," said boss Smith. "But no one has said anything about him leaving the club, unless that's what he wants himself, but he has never mentioned that to me. He has been out injured for two years so it would be natural when he comes back he has to get a fair number of games, I don't think the reserve games supply any of them with the necessary edge to get back to any kind of form. I don't know whether he wants to leave or not but I would certainly look to put him on loan and that doesn't necessarily mean he would leave the club."
The Rangers captain Barry Ferguson completed his first full match for more than five months yesterday as the reserves drew with Dundee United. Scotland captain Ferguson, 30, was an unused substitute in Tuesday night's win over Hamilton but is expected to make his first-team return in Saturday's Premier League clash with Inverness.
Yesterday's outing was the midfielder's second for the reserves since recovering from his summer ankle operation. He almost marked the game with a late goal but was off target as 10-man Rangers, who lost Christian Dailly to a red card after just 45 seconds, were held to a 1-1 draw.