Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn has pleaded with Mark Warburton to let him loose against Celtic after finally ending his four-month scoring drought.
Until Friday evening, the 26-year-old had not found the net in the Ladbrokes Premiership since the opening day of the campaign.
But his two goals shot down Hamilton as Rangers registered three straight league wins for the first time this season.
After the 2-1 win over Accies at the SuperSeal Stadium, Waghorn – who was also making his first start since mid-October – immediately set his sights on Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Celtic side ahead of their Hogmanay Ibrox visit.
He told Rangers’ official website: “Personally I am very pleased to get back in and get a couple of goals. It has been a long time coming so it was nice to be back and it was a good three points away from home.
“I didn’t necessarily have a point to prove but it was about staking my claim for my starting place in the team.
“It was nice to get in, do my job and take the three points home, which is the most important thing.
“I have done what I needed to do, played well, scored goals and technically that is what you need to do so I am pleased with my day’s job but I need to get back working hard and try and keep my place in the team.”
Rangers entertain Inverness Caledonian Thistle at lunchtime on Christmas Eve and travel to McDiarmid Park to face St Johnstone on Wednesday 28 December, before the Glasgow derby against runaway Premiership leaders Celtic.
Waghorn added: “The aim is to still be in the starting line-up come Celtic but that is up to me to keep my place, keep working hard, do my bits on the training pitch and when it comes to Saturday I have to do my job.
“It was crucial to get that win against Hamilton to keep the momentum going approaching a busy schedule.
“It is always nice to win games back to back, and playing for Rangers you need to do that, so it was important that we built on the two good performances that we produced at home.
“It would be nice to keep the winning run going. Having a week or so off in January will be difficult but to get a good couple of wins and performances under our belt before then is key.
“It is positive that we go into the Christmas schedule off the back of a couple of good wins.”
What Waghorn’s contribution will be to Rangers after that busy Christmas schedule is still open to debate, with Bristol City and Fulham among the clubs reportedly lining up moves for the striker when the January transfer window opens.
Warburton, though, says he has no intention of moving any players on next month, especially not Waghorn, who the manager never doubted would rediscover his goalscoring touch.
“Martyn didn’t show us anything we didn’t know,” explained Warburton after the striker’s brace at Hamilton. “I see him day in, day out. Look at Joe Dodoo, Michael O’Halloran, Harry Forrester and Kenny Miller – they give us options. It tells you we are in a decent place.
“But Waggy came back, he has been patient and he showed how good he can be tonight.”
The manager added: “I think Martyn enjoys playing for Rangers, simple as that. He’s a top professional, his family are settled and Martyn, as all the other players are, is wanted here at Rangers. Long may that continue. I don’t want to lose any of my players.”