Earlier this afternoon, Michael Beale addressed the media ahead of Rangers' first game of the season against Kilmarnock on Saturday. Here's everything that he had to say...

Thoughts ahead of the new campaign? 

I’m really looking forward to it. Pre-season is a good time to work, we’ve refreshed the squad and there’s lots of optimism and motivation in the building. It’s live on TV and it’s a difficult place to go but we’re keen to get started. 

How close is this squad to regaining the title? 

One game at a time. We hope the quality of the players that we’ve brought in will be seen over the season. You can’t look too far ahead and my focus is just on tomorrow evening. 

Still on the hunt for new signings? 

With every player that has gone out, we’ve brought another player in. We lost Tillman, Kent, Morelos, Colak and there’s a lot of speculation around Fashion Sakala. That’s why we brought in Sima, Dessers and Danilo so the numbers aren’t bigger - it’s actually one less. I think we can tighten the squad up more and if lose one player that we weren’t planning on then we can go into the market to replace them. The big now is consistency over the next couple of windows and playing with this group. We’ve lowered the age of the squad and added players with good value and pedigree. We need to let this group bed in, the motivation has gone up but that’s just words - let’s show it on the pitch now. 

With so many changes, how do you ensure that you hit the ground running? 

The core of the team was available at the end of the season and we made some decisions quite early. You’ll see a team tomorrow with lots of familiar faces with the excitement of some new ones. We play between 55-65 games a season so there are lots of opportunities for the team to come together. 

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Sakala update? 

Fashion won’t be involved tomorrow because he’s away having discussions. He’s a boy and a player that I have a fantastic relationship with. But sometimes in football, these opportunities come up and you discuss them. He’s away having talks and nothing is confirmed either way but he won’t be involved with the squad. 

How is the squad looking for Kilmarnock? 

Really good. Unfortunately, we lost Ridvan today to a slight strain. We don’t know if it will be days or weeks but hopefully, we’ve caught it early. Everyone else is available and Connor Goldson comes back into the squad. Tom Lawrence is a couple of days away after taking a bump on his knee in training after a challenge in training. 

Jose Cifuentes…

He was sought after and he was out of contract in December. He has a really clear idea of his path and where he wants to go in his career. I was able to get in front of him quite early and have a really nice conversation with him, his family and his representatives. It was just a matter of whether we could do it earlier and LAFC were fantastic to deal with. These things were all signed up days ago but it got held back with travel and Visas. He will go straight into the squad tomorrow because he’s been playing this summer. I think the two-week break he had before arriving is a good thing. He met his teammates this morning and trained in the session. It’s important that he’s involved in the squad and gets used to Scottish football because playing in Ayrshire is different to playing in LA.

How reassuring is the backing you’ve had in the transfer market this summer? 

The board listened to my plans straight away when I came in. We made some decisions that looked tough on the outside but it was with an eye on making the finance available to bring in some of the guys that we have. We are no further ahead in our wage structure but it’s allowed us to re-energise the squad and our squad size will be slightly smaller. When Ross Wilson moved on, there was another conversation that accelerated things with one or two additions. The idea was to equip the squad for the coming years, not just one window to the next.

Is Danilo ready to start?

He’s ready, Abdallah’s ready, Cyriel is ready, Sam is ready, Todd is ready, Ianis is ready - there’s a lot of competition. The people who earn it will play and nobody has been given a free pass or guarantees. It’s a strong squad, everyone will get an opportunity and over the season it will bed down. We are hoping to play nine games across three competitions this month, so we will need everyone. If anything, the schedule ate the squad last season so we need to stay ahead of the schedule this year. 

Glen Kamara update? 

There’s no update yet. Glen won’t be involved in the squad at the moment but there’s not update as yet. 

How do you compare the current squad to the end of last season?

The squad last season ended with 92 points and was on a good run. This squad has everything to prove but we feel that we’ve recruited some good players. It’s important that this team shows it on the pitch and it’s just one game at a time. 

Challenges of overhauling a squad and getting them to gel? 

Players have arrived at slightly different times. Danilo has only been here a few days and Jose only one day so there’s the challenge of that. We have a clear identity in how we train and these players were told how they’d fit into the squad. They are all very, very good players and lots of them have played in Serie A, Eredivisie or their national team players. I expect them to add their personality to this team and there’s no excuse around that. We’ve set our team up with a squad for the future and that starts tomorrow. 

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How satisfied are you with the board’s investment? 

Very satisfied. I sat here a few months ago and lots of questions were coming my way, but I was very calm. It was about executing the plan and I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been at the front of that with James Bisgrove and we’ve acted really quickly. I’ve had freedom to recruit players and you’ll find at the end of the window that our net spend will be really small. It wasn’t about asking the board for finance, it was about reshaping the squad.

How happy have you been with Sam Lammers? 

I’ve been chasing Sam for a long, long time. I remember him as a young player even when I was at Chelsea, as you play in tournaments and some players stand out. We’ve tried to recruit him in the past but we couldn’t get it done financially. We’ve signed an excellent player and he’s now playing in his strongest position. He’s not an out-and-out No.9 as he plays between the lines. He’s had a good pre-season but his Rangers career starts tomorrow night. 

Thoughts on Kilmarnock?

It’s a local game before we play in Europe next week. We know that it’s a busy schedule and there’s going to be a lot of eyes on us. Our focus and commitment will be on one game at a time. 

Looking at defence in terms of reinforcements? 

Ben Davies has a slight issue and he won’t be involved tomorrow. Connor is back and we have Leon King and John Souttar. It might be an area that we look at over the next month if one or two injuries don’t clear up.