James Sands claims Rangers are “really pumped” for their Europa League clash against Red Star Belgrade on Thursday with a quarter-final place at stake.
The 21-year-old United States midfielder helped the Light Blues to a commanding 3-0 Scottish Cup win at Dundee on Sunday, which took Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men into the semi-finals.
Attention turned quickly to Europe where the Scottish champions take a healthy 3-0 lead into the second leg in Serbia.
Sands is looking for Rangers to finish the job and said: “I think we’re really pumped for it. A good, good first-leg result but they’re a very talented team.
“So we definitely can’t let up and going there will be a different sort of challenge.
“So I think that the group will be up for it and it’s definitely going to require everyone to pull in the same direction.”
Sands, who joined Rangers on an 18-month loan deal from New York FC in January, had an assured afternoon on Tayside, which demonstrated that he is coming to terms with life in Scottish football.
Goals from Connor Goldson and Fashion Sakala either side of a James Tavernier penalty ensured the visitors ran out comfortable winners.
Sands said: “It’s just understanding that in Scottish football, you have so many different types of games.
“The games you play at Ibrox versus the games you play away are all very different and different things are required.
“I knew going into Sunday that it would be a very physical match, a lot of 50-50s, a lot of challenges. So I really decided to focus on that and I think it helped me.”
Sands admits there is a feel-good factor around the Ibrox club at the moment.
He said: “I think it’s a pretty positive feeling going around.
“We started the game well and we killed it pretty quickly. Anytime you can advance in a cup it’s a big deal and we’re really aiming to win this one. So definitely a good step forward.
“We’ve had a couple results in the past weeks where maybe we’ve let things slip in the second half and to do it in the manner we did it on Sunday was good for the team.
“It’s not easy coming on the road, maybe a tough pitch, playing against a team that’s sitting deep so to overcome that was really positive.”