Sasa Papac is confident Ally McCoist’s Rangers can challenge Celtic for the SPFL Premiership title on their return to Scotland’s top flight.

After winning the Third Division last season, the Light Blues have made a perfect start to their League One promotion push with eight successive victories.

Manager McCoist has arguably the second-strongest squad in the country at his disposal – and Papac is pleased with the progress being made on the road to recovery.

As the club was thrown into further turmoil today with the departures of chief executive Craig Mather and non-executive director Bryan Smart, Papac told SportTimes: “It is difficult to talk about the current situation. I know the club will get to the top again. I hope that in a couple of years we will be back in the Champions League again. When Rangers get back into the SPL, they will be at the same level as Celtic and can challenge them. In the first season, they can win trophies.

“The squad is hungry to play at a high level and win things.

“I have not seen them much on television, but I see them on the internet and read the newspapers, and it is good to see them doing well. They have won eight games in a row and started very well.

“If you have players who are used to playing in the SPL, it is normal that it would take them time to adapt to playing at the bottom level. Now, things are better this season. Coisty has to build a team for the future and build a team for the SPL and bigger things ahead.”

Papac won eight trophies during a glittering Gers career before leaving the club in May last year.

The final months of his time in Glasgow were the most difficult as the Light Blues plunged into administration, and the Bosnian has praised McCoist for steering the club out the other side of their financial meltdown.

Papac said: “It was difficult for everyone at the club and the staff. It was especially hard for the manager. He was very important during that time. For the players, it wasn’t easy.

“It was frustrating and the manager had to keep us all together. We had to go on the pitch and play in difficult circumstances, we had 50,000 people coming to see us win. We had a feeling inside, though.

“But we couldn’t take our problems on to the pitch, we had to win the games. That is why it was important to have a good manager like Coisty. He got the best from the team then and he is doing that this season, too.”

Meanwhile, Rangers have received good news over the injury that forced Lee Wallace out of the Scotland squad – but McCoist has reported fitness setbacks for Ross Perry and Chris Hegarty.

McCoist told “Lee had the scan and we got the results late last night. We had a look at them and they’re not too bad thankfully. We’re very, very hopeful he can start training again in a couple of days, although I’d have to say he’ll be a doubt for Brechin at the weekend.

“Sadly, both Ross and Chris have had setbacks and they’ve each been to see the specialist once again.”