Gascoigne's great expectations

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The Independent Online
Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, has called on his pounds 10m signings to show their worth as the Glasgow club departs for their Champions' League opener in Romania. Smith wants summer buys Paul Gascoigne, Oleg Salenko, Gordan Petric and Stephen Wright to live up to their price tags.

Tomorrow's game against Steaua Bucharest is the start of a hectic period which will shape Rangers' season, with further games coming up against Borussia Dortmund, two against Celtic in the League and Coca-Cola Cup, and Premier fixtures with Falkirk and Hibernian.

"This period we are are about to enter will tell us everything we want to know about the team," Smith said. "A year or so ago the cry went up that we must change the team - well, we've done it. We've added four new players over the summer and have in Charlie Miller and Craig Moore two young players who are still finding out what it is all about here.

"This next month will let the new guys see the pressure which previous Rangers sides have had to cope with for their success. Players here don't need to be told what the demands for success are. It's there for all of them to go out and claim it."

Smith is without five key players for the Bucharest match as Rangers make their debut in a daunting group that includes two of the European Cup favourites - Juventus and Borussia Dortmund. Stuart McCall, Mark Hateley, Trevor Steven and Ian Ferguson are all injured, while the left-back, David Robertson, is suspended after being booked twice in the preliminary round matches against Anorthosis Famagusta.

Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup and Petric are expected to be Smith's three foreigners, and the Rangers manager believes the ability of the Englishman and the Dane could be invaluable.

"I feel we have one or two individuals who have the ability to possibly help us over the bumps you get with a new team."

Meanwhile, the fitness of Raith's former Scotland international, Jim McInally, is in doubt as Jimmy Nicholl's Scottish Coca-Cola Cup holders face Akranes of Iceland at Stark's Park tonight in their Uefa Cup first- round, first-leg tie. Such is the worry over losing McInally's experience that Nicholl has even named himself in the squad. The former Northern Ireland international will be 39 in December.

McInally, a veteran of European competition with Dundee United, has a stomach complaint and a decision on his involvement will be left until nearer kick-off. Midfielder Alex Taylor has a calf injury but defender Shaun Dennis has recovered from a back injury.

Akranes are the Icelandic champions and boast five current internationals, including Sigi Jonsson, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal player.

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