Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley claims Hearts would have been favourites for the Petrofac Training Cup had their youth team not bowed out in midweek.
And Hateley has urged Rangers to grasp the chance created by their Scottish Championship rivals’ second-round defeat to Livingston, which came after Robbie Neilson made 10 changes.
Ally McCoist’s team have been handed a quarter-final tie at East Fife following their 8-1 demolition of Barry Ferguson’s Clyde on Monday night.
Hateley said: “Rangers have to seize the initiative. East Fife will be very well organised so they are contenders and Livingston got the result of the last round against Hearts.
“That said, I would be playing my strongest team possible at this stage of the competition and I’m not sure why Hearts didn’t.
“I was really surprised at that. They’ve just come out of the top flight and I thought they’d be looking to win something straight away.
“Alistair is keen to win this trophy and every time Rangers enter a competition they want to come out on top. That’s our mentality and Alistair has always been a winner, even if he has been playing a game of dominoes.”