THE first competitive game of the new season will be played a couple of days earlier than expected for Rangers as Steven Gerrard’s side set off on what they hope will be another run to the group stages of the Europa League this week.

A tie with Progres Niederkorn potentially lies in wait in the second qualifying round should they, having just scrapped by Cardiff Metropolitan University on away goals, see off Cork City over the next fortnight.

Gerrard has already reaffirmed his commitment to the Europa League this summer and there is no chance him treating the competition lightly, even although there are more pressing domestic matters to attend to.

The tie with St Joseph’s is one that Rangers should take care of relatively comfortably and it is one they will just be glad to get played after the fixture farce caused by UEFA last week.

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As soon as St Joseph’s beat Prishtina on Tuesday night, the game should have been confirmed for tomorrow evening. But it wasn’t until Friday morning, after Europa had set up a meeting with Legia Warsaw by winning their preliminary clash, that the date was fixed for the first leg.

The uncertainty left hundreds of fans in limbo, unable to arrange for days off work and hesitant about booking hotels and flights. Only having four days notice just isn’t on.

It was late on Friday afternoon by the time that Rangers got their own itinerary sorted and the whole situation seemed so avoidable, so simple to have solved. Gerrard will hope that is the only inconvenience.