Brown glad Gers have avoided Celtic tie

Rangers' Marius Zaliukas (no26) celebrates his goal during the Scottish Championship match at the The Energy Assets Arena, Livingston. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 15, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Livingston. Photo credit should read: PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Marius Zaliukas (no26) celebrates his goal during the Scottish Championship match at the The Energy Assets Arena, Livingston. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 15, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Livingston. Photo credit should read: PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Former Rangers defender John Brown was happy to see his old club avoid Celtic in the third round of the Scottish League Cup.

But Brown believes Mark Warburton’s side will be able to handle a Glasgow derby in the latter stages of the competition if they can get past St Johnstone next month.

Rangers, who have announced the departure of Marius Zaliukas, were comfortably beaten 2-0 in last season’s semi-final by the Hoops and Brown feels more time would help them narrow the gap.

Brown said after the Hampden draw: “Hopefully it’s the final, but I think the squad is still getting to know each other.

“I think getting Celtic in this round would have been a bit early.

“Once the squad gets another six to 10 games under their belt, then I think they would be a lot stronger and be able to handle a game against Celtic a lot better.

“But they have still got to get over St Johnstone first.”

Rangers took their goal tally to 25 in seven consecutive wins under Warburton as they swept Airdrie aside 5-0 in Lanarkshire on Wednesday night.

Rangers have beaten Hibernian twice already this season but Brown believes the Perth side will pose a good test of their progress.

“There has been a big turnaround in the squad and I think after this game the manager will know how far they have come,” the former Dundee boss said.

“They have been free-flowing, creating a lot of chances, scoring a lot of goals, but I think St Johnstone will test Rangers more than any other team this season.”

Zaliukas was halfway through a two-year contract but the former Hearts centre-back had not featured under Warburton and has agreed a deal to terminate his contract ahead of the transfer deadline.

Meanwhile the Rangers First fan group has announced the purchase of an additional 250,000 shares to take its stake to 3.5 per cent.

Rangers First director Ricki Neill said: “Further to this acquisition, our shareholding working group have also recently prepared some financial projections based on our members’ current monthly contribution levels.

“These projections indicate that Rangers First will achieve our first target of a five per cent shareholding in the club before the end of 2015.”