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McCoist: it's mad - but exciting - that we're in second tier with Hearts, Hibs

Ally McCoist admits Rangers will be taking a step into the unknown when they come up against old rivals Hearts and Hibernian this season.

The Scottish Championship will be the unlikely setting as three of the country's biggest clubs battle it out for promotion back to the top flight.

But with both Edinburgh clubs under new management, Ibrox boss McCoist admits it will be vastly different Jambos and Hibees squads who take on the League One champions this term.

New Hearts owner Ann Budge sacked Gary Locke after the former club captain failed to overturn a 15-point penalty dished out for going into administration and replaced him with Robbie Neilson when the club was relegated to the second tier.

And the Gorgie men were joined in the Championship by city rivals Hibs after Hamilton gunned down the Easter Road outfit on penalties in the play-off final.

Terry Butcher paid the price for that humiliation when he was axed, losing his job to new head coach Alan Stubbs.

McCoist told the club's official website: "The big talking point over the summer has been the addition to the Championship of ourselves, Hearts and Hibs.

"I've had a chat with the boys and we've had a good blether about what's expected of us this season and how we see the competition and the games.

"There's going to be a lot of focus on this season and there's a real anticipation. I can feel it, not just from the players but from the fans and the staff as well.

"All being well, we can have a good pre-season and we can look forward to a very competitive and healthy start to the league.

"Hearts and - to an even greater degree - Hibs will have changed squads from last year and the change of management at both clubs will have a massive influence on their playing pools.

"The one thing the two Edinburgh teams both are though are really big clubs. There's no doubt about that and we've enjoyed going there on numerous occasions.

"We've had some great tussles at Ibrox too and I don't see next season being any different. It's bizarre we are all in the second tier but that's where we are at the moment.

"That's the madness of Scottish football but it gives us an opportunity to pit our wits against two of the country's great clubs and we are looking forward to that."

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