Joey Barton ‘no distraction’ as Rangers look to Aberdeen

Matt Gilks will be Rangers' goalkeeper for the duration of their League Cup run this season. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC/PA

Matt Gilks will be Rangers' goalkeeper for the duration of their League Cup run this season. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC/PA

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Anyone who wishes they could be spared further exposure to the unrelenting Joey Barton saga which has dominated the Scottish football narrative for the past week could do worse than turn to Matt Gilks for some advice.

For according to the Rangers goalkeeper, who was also a team-mate of the incurably controversial Barton at Burnley last season, the Ibrox squad have found no difficulty in switching themselves off from the general sound and fury which has accompanied the former England international’s suspension from 
the club.

Matt Gilks in action during the Betfred Cup quarter-final win over Queen of the South. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC/Press Association Images

Matt Gilks in action during the Betfred Cup quarter-final win over Queen of the South. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC/Press Association Images

“To be honest, we just block it all out,” claimed Gilks, who kept his fourth clean sheet in as many appearances for Rangers as they secured their first victory for a month by overwhelming Queen of the South 5-0 in the Betfred Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night.

“It’s for other people to talk about and for you guys in the media to summarise. We just get on with the task in hand. The gaffer told us what was going on and that was it. We move forward.”

For Rangers, the next step forward is their keenly anticipated return to Pittodrie on Sunday. It is a venue they last visited almost five years ago and Gilks has been made aware of the fixture’s reputation for high octane and often bitterly contested action.

“I’ve heard all about the rivalry,” said Gilks with a smile. “But listen, I’ve played in Burnley-Preston games, so I’m sure it will be fine! Seriously, we know it is a huge game.

“It adds a bit of spice and it’s the start of a tough period of games for us. But we have a squad of players here who are more than capable of coping with it. We are in a good frame of mind after beating Queen of the South.

“It was a really good performance and it has given us all something to build on. Mentally, it was a big win for us. We got a clean sheet and hopefully we can get another one on Sunday up at Pittodrie.

“If we can keep a clean sheet, we’ve got the players who can score at the other end. Our confidence is high, we’ve not really been on a downer despite some of the results not going the way we would have liked in the last few weeks. We have just taken it day by day and we are all working hard. That’s what the manager wants from us.”

Gilks can expect to be back on the substitutes’ bench on Sunday as deputy to Wes Foderingham, who remains Warburton’s first-choice 
goalkeeper for Premiership fixtures.

But the 34-year-old Scotland international, whose four appearances so far have all been in the Betfred Cup, has been assured by the Rangers manager that he will be back in the side for next month’s semi-final at Hampden.

“Wes is doing well in the league and the manager has told me this is how things are at the minute,” said Gilks. “I’m happy to play in the League Cup games as it stands. There is a semi-final coming up now and I’d expect to play in that and then, hopefully, the final.

“I’m going to do everything the manager says. I want to continue to work hard because I really enjoy being at this club. I have a couple of years here and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

“It was just good to get out there on the pitch again on Tuesday and play at Ibrox again. It was a great result and a clean sheet as a goalkeeper is all you can really ask for.

“We had worked on what we needed to do and I think we got our reward for that against Queen of the South. The plan came together in many respects and the final result speaks for itself. Martyn Waghorn got a hat-trick, it was a good performance by everyone and there are a lot of positives for us to take from it.

“We go out there to win every game we play. It doesn’t matter what competition it’s in. We want to win the league and we want to win the 
cup, so it was just another game in that regard and we are happy to be in the semi-final draw.”

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