CELTIC forward Kris Commons has warned Stuart McCall his Rangers side are “nowhere near” being ready to topple the Hoops next season.
Interim Ibrox boss McCall has inspired a mini-revival in Gers’ fortunes since taking over from Kenny McDowall last month.
The former Light Blues midfielder is unbeaten in his five games in charge and Sunday’s 2-1 win over newly-crowned Scottish Championship winners Hearts moved them above Hibernian into second place.
McCall will now hope his side have the momentum they will need to fight their way through the play-offs and back to the Premiership.
But Commons sneered at the suggestion their Old Firm rivals could make an immediate challenge if they do win promotion, insisting Rangers will need to sign some players “worthy” of taking on Ronny Deila’s side first.
Commons, whose side are on the verge of claiming their fourth successive title, said: “It’s hard to say [if Rangers will be able to make an immediate challenge]. First of all they have got to get up.
“Secondly, they have got to sign some players that are worthy of challenging us. I think they are nowhere near that at the minute.
“That’s all ifs and buts. That might take six months, it might take six weeks.
“But when any new manager comes in, no matter how good or bad [they are], you will get a reaction from players wanting to make an impression.
“I think that’s why they have had a little turn in events. But, for me, commenting on them making a challenge, it is the same as talking about Hearts. We played them twice this year and beat them convincingly.
“So it will be difficult, I’d say.”
Commons was speaking at the launch of the Cheque Centre PFA Scotland player of the year awards.
With the Parkhead playmaker barred from nominating any of his Celtic team-mates, Commons confirmed his vote will go to Aberdeen’s 25-goal striker Adam Rooney.
But the 31-year-old insists Hoops keeper Craig Gordon deserves the prize after battling back from devastating knee and wrist injuries which threatened to end his career.
The former Hearts and Sunderland number one had not kicked a ball for two years when Deila handed him his chance at redemption.
And Commons revealed it took Gordon just two days to dispel any doubts the Celtic squad may have had about his capabilities.
“I’ll be voting for Rooney,” said Commons. “When you are scoring 20-plus goals a season you always need a special mention.
“But this year will probably be the closest vote for many years. There’s been no stand-out candidate that has excelled in every game.
“If I could vote for a Celtic player I’d probably go for Craig Gordon, just because of the level of performance he has produced from where he was.
“To be out of the game for two years with career-threatening injuries and come back is a credit to how hard he has worked.
“It’s a fairytale story when you consider where he was two years ago. He was released by Sunderland but was on the verge of playing Champions League football this year. That’s phenomenal.
“He had huge boots to fill when Fraser Forster left but made the transition seamless.
“He has made some incredible saves and kept us in games at times this season.
“When he first came in he was a little bit rusty. That was understandable but after a couple of days he was back to his old self.”
Now that fitness issues are no longer a worry, Commons believes Gordon can see out his career at Parkhead.
He said: “He should now be looking to extend his career for as long as he can. Playing for Celtic will prolong it because in the league games he’s not as busy.
“Hopefully his injuries are behind him and he will play on for a good three, four or five years.”
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