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Livingston manager David Martindale believes Rangers have improved under Giovanni van Bronckhorst and will be a huge challenge for his side on the opening day.

Martindale watched Rangers beat West Ham 3-1 in a friendly on Tuesday and predicted they would mount a strong title bid as they bid to wrestle the cinch Premiership trophy back from Celtic.

Livi have lost their last seven games against Rangers and Martindale does not expect the Saturday lunchtime visit of the Europa League runners-up to be any less difficult.

Martindale, whose side drew with Kelty Hearts before sealing a Premier Sports Cup second-round tie with Dundee United, told LFC Live: “I was at the Rangers game on Tuesday night and they were phenomenal, honestly.

“I think it’s going to be a cracking title race this year. Rangers as a club have kicked on massively. Since Gio has come in, he has made them better and they have kicked on, brought a lot of revenue into the club, commercially and from player sales, and I think they have used that very, very wisely.

“So I think we are going to be facing a different animal this time round.

“They have a Champions League qualifier on the Tuesday so everyone that sets foot on the park on the Saturday is going to be vying for a place in a huge, huge game for Rangers.

“That will be an added bonus and impetus for the Rangers.

“We can only look at ourselves and how we are going to approach the game but I think it’s going to be a really, really difficult game, if I’m honest.”