'Amazing' support can help Rangers 'play above their level' to beat Benfica

Rangers host the Portuguese giants at Ibrox on Thursday with a quarter-final place on the line.

Philippe Clement admits that Rangers will need to play “above their level” to reach the Europa League quarter-final but insists the “amazing” Ibrox support can help his side rise to the challenge and knock out Benfica.

The Portuguese giants arrive in Glasgow to take on the Premiership league leaders on Thursday night with the tie on a knife edge following a 2-2 draw in Lisbon last week.

A place in the last eight of Europe’s second top competition awaits the winner and Clement believes the atmosphere inside the stadium can help inspire his side to victory.

The Rangers manager has confidence in his side, despite more injury set-backs, that they have enough to finish the job against the two-time European champions in the southside of Glasgow.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday he said: “My players are ready, I seen enough today, I see the freshness is back and the hunger is really big.

“We know we need to play above our level to qualify but we are going to do everything we can to do that and with the support of the fans that can give us something extra that will help a lot.

“Our fans are amazing and they give something extra to the team and that can help us to go above our level, to make a final sprint, to block a shot, to make a decisive action and give the players an extra energy.

“Like I said before, we won’t park the bus like a lot of teams are doing against them, we didn’t do it over there so we will not do it at Ibrox.

“We will need to be efficient, it is a top game with top quality on both sides that it will be decided on details, so we need to take the details to our side.”

The Rangers squad has been continually decimated by injuries since the Belgian took over last year and they suffered another blow with the news that utility man Dujon Sterling, who has impressed in a number of positions in recent weeks, will miss the game on Thursday.

But the return of Todd Cantwell for the game, although he won’t be able to play a full 90 minutes, is a welcome boost.

Clement continued: “Todd (Cantwell) is ready to play a number of minutes as discussed with the medical staff, clearly not ready for 90 minutes.

“He was good in the training and I’m happy to see him back.

“Dujon (Sterling) will not be in the squad, it is a minor issue but we won’t take the risk – we will see where he is ahead of Sunday.

“Ross McCausland did one part of training today and we will see tomorrow how he is.

“Every day when I step into the dressing room I see the dynamic and the will that is there.

“Players starting or not, there is no difference – everyone is giving their best.”

Rangers are still fighting on three fronts as they look to add to the League Cup trophy they won earlier in the season and they return to league action with a trip to Dundee on Sunday afternoon.

They currently lead second place Celtic by two points with nine games, including to Old Firm clashes, remaining and also have a Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts next month as they chase a potential domestic treble.

And despite European heavyweights like AC Milan, Liverpool, AS Roma and Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen still in the Europa League, a victory over Benfica on Thursday night could see the support dream of replicating their run of two years ago by reaching another European final that will be held in Dublin at the end of the May.

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