FILIP HELANDER admits it would be a 'great achievement' if Rangers could qualify for the Champions League as Steven Gerrard's side look to improve on the continent and dominate domestically this term.

Rangers will continue their preparations for the new campaign with friendly fixtures against Brighton and Real Madrid this weekend before the visit of Livingston sees them kick-off their top flight title defence.

A third qualifying round clash with Malmo or HJK Helsinki awaits next month as Rangers return to Champions League action after a decade absence and set their sights on a place in the group stages.

Helander is now counting down to the competitive action following his return to the Ibrox squad in the aftermath of the European Championships this summer.

And the Swedish stopper knows what will be expected of Gerrard's side in the coming weeks as Rangers attempt to pick up where they left off at the end of their unbeaten Premiership campaign.

Helander told RangersTV: "It has been great to see all the boys. It looks like they have been training hard.

"I have just come back so I haven’t been training that much. It looks like they have been training hard and getting up to speed.

"Absolutely [I am ready to join in]. I have got my rest now. It was a little bit shorter than the rest of the players but I am looking forward to getting back.

"There are always going to come new challenges and we just want to replicate what we did last season in terms of the league. And then try to perform better in the cups.

"Of course, I think for all the players, to reach the Champions League would be a great achievement and something that we would take a lot of pride in."

The return of Helander is another timely boost for boss Gerrard ahead of the new season as Rangers prepare for their friendly double-header ahead of the Livingston clash that will see 17,000 supporters watch from the Ibrox stands.

The defender was granted extra time off this summer following his participation at the Euros as several of Gerrard's key men represented their nations with distinction at the continent-wide tournament.

Sweden's bid for glory came to a premature end in Glasgow as they were beaten by Ukraine in the round of 16 but there are still positives to take as Helander's international attentions turn to the World Cup in Qatar next year.

Helander said: "It was a good experience. I enjoyed it. Unfortunately we couldn’t go as far as we wanted.

"I think we are quite used to [the travel]. We do that a lot when we play for the national team, travelling back and forth.

"I don’t think that was a big issue. But, of course, with the restrictions and everything with the virus, it was maybe a little bit more difficult than what it normally is.

"Of course it is always special to play in a big tournament. I enjoyed it.

"I tried to enjoy it as much as possible. Unfortunately the result wasn’t what we wanted.

"That (improve ahead of the World Cup) is what we need to try and do. I think we have a good team and we showed glimpses of it during this tournament.

"We have some good players. Hopefully we can be a bit more successful."