Rangers are banking on Gascoigne

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The Independent Online
Football

Rangers embark on another pursuit of their Holy Grail in Bucharest tonight, banking on a Dane and an Englishman to help improve Scotland's record in Europe.

Walter Smith, the Rangers' manager, is hoping that Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne can help his side emerge from a daunting Champions' League section which includes Juventus and Borussia Dortmund, along with this evening's opponents, Steaua Bucharest.

However, Smith believes the new Champions' League points system may give his side the chance to progress. "One big difference this year is the three points for a win system," he said.

"That is going to be a factor in how teams approach games, and certainly you would hope to start off with something from the first. In Gascoigne and Laudrup we have two guys who have the individual flair and ability to help us over any bumps."

Uefa are offering pounds 500,000 per Champions' League win, but just how bold Smith will be with his team selection remains to be seen, with Mark Hateley and Stuart McCall injured and left-back David Robertson suspended.

Smith could use Gordon Durie up front alongside Ally McCoist with Laudrup, Gascoigne and Charlie Miller in midfield. But it seems more likely that the Scotland Under-21 talent Neil Murray will be given a holding role. Murray has played barely a minute of first-team football this season, coming on as a substitute when Rangers clinched their Champions' League place in Cyprus against Anorthosis last month.

Smith confirmed former Dundee United defender Alex Cleland will replace Robertson at left-back - his debut first-team appearance this season - and that Laudrup and Alan McLaren have shrugged off injuries. Gascoigne, Laudrup and the Serbian defender Gordan Petric, a summer purchase from Dundee United, will make up Rangers' foreign quota.

Steaua, 17 times Romanian champions, will be without inspirational winger Marius Lacatus and defender Aurel Panait through suspension. The two clubs met earlier this year at Ibrox in a pre-season match, Rangers winning 4-0. Smith has told his team not to use the result as a benchmark. "That worries me a little because it will be nothing like the same game. After we scored the first goal they came out a bit more, but in all honesty, it was only a pre-season friendly."

Rangers (from): Goram, Wright, Cleland, McLaren, Gough, Petric, Gascoigne, Miller, Murray, Laudrup, McCoist, Thomson, Durrant, Durie, Bollan, Reid.

n Rangers have been fined around pounds 2,500 by Uefa for the burning of an opposition flag by some of their supporters against Anorthosis in Cyprus last month.

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