Cove Rangers may be gearing up for the biggest game in the club’s history but manager Paul Hartley admits he has one eye on Tuesday’s League One clash against Clyde.
The Aberdeen side travel to Ibrox to face Scottish Premiership champions Rangers on Sunday evening in the third round of the Scottish Cup.
Cove defeated Airdrieonians 2-0 on Tuesday night to move second in League One and only four points adrift of leaders Falkirk.
Hartley knows there is little room for error over the closing stretch as they chase the title and promotion to the Championship.
With the Rangers tie being moved to Sunday evening for television purposes, Hartley admits he will need to use his squad wisely, particularly as his players are still getting back to full sharpness following the recent shutdown.
He said: “We are just happy that we are back playing.
“We had a 10 week period where we had no football whatsoever and then a two week period of trying to get back training which hasn’t been ideal.
“The challenge is to go to Rangers with a game plan to try and make it as difficult as we can.
“Forty-eight hours later we are down at Clyde.
“It is about trying to pick a team that will compete but will also have one eye on Tuesday, which is the most important thing for us.
“Any other normal time, you can really focus on this game.
“The players are looking forward to it but as a manager it is more of a challenge.
“We played on Tuesday and have had to change our training to Friday but we won’t do very much.
“We will pick a game plan and a team to compete on Sunday but I also have to keep another team in my head for Tuesday night because we are going to use up so much energy against a Rangers team that is flying high.
“Most of our play on Sunday will be out of possession.”
Despite the hectic schedule, Hartley will still head to Ibrox hoping his side can pull off an unlikely victory against the best team in Scotland this season.
But the Cove boss accepts the odds will be stacked against his side.
He said: “We can always dream but everything has to go your way.
“You need to have real luck, take your opportunities, defend well and have everybody on their A game.
“In cup football, who knows what can happen?
“But, I am more concerned about going there, being really organised and making it difficult for Rangers.
“Let the players go with a little bit of freedom if they can.
“Quite a few of them have never played there before and the disappointment for the players is that there will be no fans there.
“Also financially for the club, what we would have made out of the game in any other circumstances if we had got fans back in.
“It would have been a lot of money and we are having to spend a lot of money with the protocols and testing once a week.”
🏆 Scottish League 1 table pic.twitter.com/ofZwi6C8V3
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Rangers have won all 16 of their home matches on the way to the Premiership crown this season and Gers boss Steven Gerrard has said winning the Scottish Cup is now their top target.
But Hartley is relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with the former Liverpool captain.
The former Dundee and Alloa manager said: “It is a big challenge for us.
“The way Rangers have gone domestically and in Europe, it doesn’t matter what team they had out, all their players know the style and system they play.
“They are undefeated in the league and it is a big challenge to the players and me as a manager.
“I will come up to Steven Gerrard for the first time and they have taken two or three years to get to where they are just now.
“You can see the way they play and everybody can see how they play.
“He said after the league was wrapped up that he was going for the Scottish Cup.
“We will be up against it on Sunday, there is no doubt about that.
“We just have to go there and give it our best shot and be pretty organised.
“We have some good players here and we play in a certain style.
“When we get a hold of the ball we need to try and be positive with it.”