Mark Warburton has dismissed any notion of the “new club” jibe from Dundee captain Gary Harkins forming part of Rangers’ motivation ahead of today’s Scottish Cup quarter-final between the teams at Ibrox.
Harkins has assured himself of a hot reception from the home fans this afternoon following his recent comment, which he subsequently insisted was “just a wee joke”, that he had never played against Rangers before as they were a “new club” following their financial collapse of 2012.
But Rangers manager Warburton insists it has no relevance to him or his players as the runaway Scottish Championship leaders target a place in the semi-finals.
“No, that won’t be mentioned in our team talk,” said Warburton. “Those comments are of no interest to me, honestly.
“We have got to talk from a position of strength in terms of knowledge. We have got enough motivation. It is a Scottish Cup quarter-final at Ibrox. There is no need for any special motivation. If you do need that, you shouldn’t be in our dressing room.”
Warburton, meanwhile, has confirmed that Rangers’ now seemingly inevitable coronation as Championship title winners could be delayed by the postponement of their scheduled fixture against Queen of the South at Ibrox on 26 March. The game takes place during the next international break and Rangers will be entitled to call it off if, as has happened previously this season, they have three or more players called up by their countries at any level.
Winger Barrie McKay is likely to be in the Scotland under-21 squad, while captain Lee Wallace is believed to be in contention for a recall to one of the two senior squads Gordon Strachan will name for the challenge matches against Czech Republic and Denmark. Midfielder Gedion Zelalem is set to be called up by the USA under-23 squad for their friendlies against Colombia.
Warburton added: “We are conscious that our fans book ferries, flights and hotels in advance. We have tried to get information in advance from the national associations and have been told the squads will be announced roughly 14 days before the Queen of the South game.”
Meanwhile, Rangers have called on fans to ignore “ill-informed detractors” ahead of the Dundee tie. Rangers insist they emerged as the same club following the liquidation process of 2012.
A statement on their official website, referencing an anti-sectarian campaign, read: “In light of recent ill-considered comments made by journalists and players it is perhaps timely to point out that we must all continue to Follow With Pride.
“Clearly it rankles with some that we, Rangers, are still here with our history intact and the best way to protect this proud heritage is to ignore our detractors. Do not react to them and give others cause to criticise our behaviour. Instead, Follow With Pride and deny those who cannot accept reality.”