Mark Warburton’s player hunt hit by sky-high English prices

Rangers manager Mark Warburton chats to the press. Picture: Rangers FC via Press Association
Rangers manager Mark Warburton chats to the press. Picture: Rangers FC via Press Association
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Mark Warburton feels that Rangers’ chances of landing a central defender have been considerably diminished because the English market has become ludicrously inflated.

The Rangers manager has seen prices for players double in a short space of time which is making it almost impossible to conduct any business.

However, if nothing materialises, Warburton believes he has enough cover with Matt Crooks, three weeks away from full fitness as a result of an ankle injury, an able deputy at the back to complement Rob Kiernan, Danny Wilson and Clint Hill.

Warburton said: “We are trying to sign a central defender but it’s an ever-decreasing talent pool.

“You look at the prices down south and there are players moving for six, seven, eight or £10 million who were one, two, three, four just a few weeks ago.

“So the market demand is such that the shelves are getting thin after the Euros.

“I think people are now starting to panic and Rangers can’t be drawn into that. We can’t be drawn into a panic buy.

“If it adds value we will make a move but we won’t be drawn into an auction because we will lose that.

“Matt Crooks, don’t forget, is a defensive midfielder/centre-half and at 6ft 4ins he adds physicality. Clint Hill was very good on Tuesday and we have Rob Kiernan and Danny 
Wilson.

“If the right person becomes available we will move. But we can’t get drawn into an auction and we can’t compete with English clubs.

“If you look at the numbers being quoted down south players were going for half of it a month ago and now they will go for the new price and that can’t be right.”

Warburton will hand a debut to striker Joe Dodoo at Ochilview tomorrow night as 
Rangers seek their third win in the Betfred Cup group phase against East Stirlingshire to effectively secure their place in the last 16.

He will continue to rotate his squad and revealed that teenage midfielder Jordan Rossiter will not be given any time off after playing for England at the Under-19s European 
Championship.

Rossiter is hoping to help England beat Italy in the semi-finals today to face either 
Portugal or France on Sunday, but he will report to Murray Park as soon as England are finished.

Warburton said: “Jordan will be back here no later than Monday – and I hope for his sake it’s Monday.

“He’s had a great tournament. The feedback has been really positive and he has been keeping some really good 
players out of the team. So we will be getting a player back who is match fit and on good form which is good news. He will come straight back in and he wants to because he has signed for a new club. He’s keen to play.

“Joe Dodoo will be involved on Friday and we will make five or six changes from the team that played Annan.”

While still seeking two more players, it is the work that has been done to existing contracts that Warburton feels is showing the supporters that everyone is committed to the cause.

He and Davie Weir agreed new terms while Wes Foderingham, Kiernan and James Tavernier have done the same with Martyn Waghorn still to put pen to paper.

Warburton said: “Getting contracts signed is important but what’s more important is the message it sends out.

“It tells supporters and players we are being proactive and pushing ahead.

“You could say players have two years to run or 18 months to run, but we’re being proactive as we did last year with Jason Holt, Kenny Miller and Andy Halliday, moving with those guys.

“It shows the club to have that proactive stance, not reactive. The message is positive and, if we can keep on doing that, the players have to trust us. Trust us that if they work hard and do well, we will reward them.

“It’s a really strong group in terms of their character and how they conduct themselves.

“It’s one of the best David and I have seen and the senior pros mention it as well.

“You saw Martyn on Tuesday night and you saw a player who is the ultimate professional. He missed three months of the season and he has been working hard in training.

“Two games and two goals is a great start but he knows it’s a different level in terms of quality defenders but he is a good player and I’m sure he will score a few this season.”