Mark Warburton hailed the contribution of stand-in captain Andy Halliday as Rangers booked their place in the Betfred Cup semi-finals with an emphatic 5-0 defeat of Queen of the South at Ibrox.
It was a first victory in four matches for Warburton’s side in a period which has seen them rocked by a heavy Old Firm defeat and then the subsequent club suspension imposed on Joey Barton following a training ground bust-up sparked by the controversial English midfielder.
Halliday, who went head-to-head with Barton in last week’s altercation, led the side last night in the absence of injured captain Lee Wallace and scored his team’s second goal.
On a night which saw Jason Holt open the scoring and Martyn Waghorn claim a hat-trick, manager Warburton praised Halliday for his role in a display he believes sets Rangers up perfectly for this Sunday’s much anticipated Premiership fixture against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
“Andy is Rangers through and through, everyone knows that,” said Warburton. “That’s fine, but you also have to be able to deliver on the pitch and he was outstanding tonight. I thought he led by example.
“Tonight was a clinical performance from us and we are now looking forward to what will be a tough trip to Aberdeen. It has been four years since the club have played there and we know our fans are looking forward to it. So are the players. We are relishing that challenge.
“After what happened at Parkhead, hard work is the only way of getting better. You have to put your head down at the training ground and the next game becomes a consequence of what you do there.
“It was a pleasing night’s work tonight. We asked the players to dominate the football in the first half and we did that completely. The only complaint from us as a group is that it was 1-0 at half-time and it could have been more.
“We were a bit sloppy in the first 10 minutes of the second half in terms of keeping the football and maintaining our shape but then I thought we were very good.
“We scored goals but missed a lot of chances as well. The only difference from Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Ross County was that we were a little bit more clinical and it helps build momentum.”
Warburton declined to comment specifically on the gambling charge Barton is expected to face from the Scottish Football Association but did stress that all Rangers players were fully aware of the regulations surrounding betting on matches.
“Players north and south of the border know the situation,” said Warburton. “There is a zero tolerance policy and that has been made very clear to them.”