IT is the commodity that Rangers need most but one that is in short supply at Ibrox. Time will help solve their problems, yet it is also of the essence.

The clock is ticking to the start of the Premiership campaign and every day that passes must be put to good use by the Light Blues squad as the countdown continues to the big kick-off.

For Pedro Caixinha, the coming weeks are crucial. Having already suffered an embarrassing Europa League exit at the hands of Progres Niederkorn, Rangers must hit the ground running when they return to league duty.

The trip to Fir Park on August 6 is likely to see Bruno Alves make his first competitive appearance for the Gers following his move from Cagliari and summer at the Confederations Cup.

Countryman Fabio Cardoso started in both legs of the Progres tie alongside David Bates and it is the Scot that will surely make way for Alves when he returns to the Light Blues squad. That decision seems fairly straightforward for Caixinha, but forming an understanding at the back can be easier said than done.

“They can only get a partnership by playing games together and the more games they play together the quicker they will get a partnership,” former Rangers defender Marvin Andrews said. “If they don’t play, that won’t happen. I don’t know them personally or know how good they are as players today.

“In terms of the timescale, it could take them three games, it could take four games, it could take more or it could take less. It all depends on how well they complement each other with their strengths and weaknesses.”

The capture of Alves on a two-year deal was a significant coup for Caixinha earlier this summer but fans have yet to see the stopper in action.

His physicality and experience will be crucial for Rangers this term and the Portuguese looks like the answer to a problem that has plagued the Gers for some time now, and Andrews hopes a much-improved defensive unit will give Caixinha’s side the foundations upon which to build.

“Defending is not a single thing, it is a collective effort and it involved the right-back and the left-back, as well as the goalkeeper,” he said.

“The back five need to be solid. Defending is a collective. When a team loses goals, who gets most of the blame? The centre-halves.

“The defenders that the manager has brought in, they need to have a blend together and a cohesion together but the midfield and the strikers are important to the unit as well. The defence and the goalkeeper build their confidence on clean sheets and if they can do that then they will win more games.”

The Portuguese pair of Alves and Cardoso will find themselves at the heart of the Rangers back four this term but the success or failure of Caixinha’s side will not solely depend on them.

He has added a further seven players to his ranks this summer as Ryan Jack and Graham Dorrans have been joined by likes of Carlos Pena, Daniel Candeias and Alfredo Morelos.

The defeat to Progres was an unexpected and untimely jolt to the system and it is a blow that the new recruits must quickly recover from as the Premiership start draws ever closer.

“The difference with playing at Rangers is that you don’t get much time,” Andrews said. “NIf they don’t get up to speed quickly they will be find themselves in a position you don’t want to be in.”