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David McCracken ready for Rangers battle as he looks to test himself

Soccer – Ladbrokes Scottish Championship – Rangers v Falkirk – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

David McCracken admits he is facing the biggest test of his managerial career so far as the Falkirk co-boss prepares to stare down Steven Gerrard’s Rangers on Sunday.

The Bairns boss and partner Lee Miller came close to a major shock last season as their League One outfit pushed Hearts close in a William Hill Scottish Cup tie.

Sean Claire’s second-half penalty eventually saw the Premiership Jambos through to the last eight but Falkirk felt they deserved more after shaking the woodwork on three occasions.

McCracken reckons that head-to-head with then Tynecastle boss Daniel Stendel was the toughest challenge he has faced in his fledgling coaching career so far.

But he admits it will be a whole new level tomorrow as he tries to plot a major shock against Gerrard’s unbeaten Gers.

“We had the Hearts game last season where we felt we did pretty well but this would probably be my biggest test as a manager,” said McCracken, whose side have lost just once in 10 outings so far this season.

“Part of the Hearts game was the belief factor and the players need to have that and be on form to have any chance.

“We’ll need to show a completely different side to our game this weekend. In a lot of our games we’ve had good possession of the ball and a lot of chances.

“But on Sunday there will be big parts of the game where we need to give up possession and work hard on our shape defensively.

“You’re looking at trying to contain it in the first 20 minutes, don’t lose an early goal and build from there towards half-time.

“The longer the game goes then the better chance you have because they can get frustrated. But we don’t want to focus on defending for 90 minutes.

“In the early part of the season we weren’t happy with some of our defensive duties but that has got better and we’re looking more assured.

“There will be times we have the ball and we have to be brave and create chances.”

McCracken was part of the Bairns line-up which twice stunned Mark Warburton’s Light Blues back in 2015/16.

Gers were still a Championship outfit at the time as they fought their way back towards the top-flight but McCracken savoured those triumphs none the less.

And he wants his squad to sample a famous win too.

“The wins over Rangers in the Championship were big when you consider what they were trying to achieve,” he said. “I played a few games at Ibrox and Parkhead and those are the games you want to be involved in as a player.

“It’s a great chance to help not only your own CV but the club as well and we’ve already seen the standard in training go up since the draw.”