RANGERS manager Ally McCoist admits he left Nicky Clark fuming after dropping the striker for Kenny Miller.
But the Ibrox manager insists the former Queen of the South man is picking up some valuable lessons watching Miller and strike partner Kris Boyd combine.
Clark has arguably been Rangers’ most consistent performer over the last six weeks but found himself on the bench for Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing of Raith as Miller returned after missing the same period with a calf tear.
But McCoist’s decision paid off as Boyd and Miller both scored in the Rovers rout.
Jon Daly also came on late in the Ibrox romp to score twice, leaving McCoist with a headache ahead of Tuesday’s Petrofac Training Cup semi-final with East Fife.
But he insists the form of his other frontmen had not pushed Clark into the shadows.
McCoist said: “I’ve got pleasant problems now with three of the front lads scoring against Raith.
“But I think Nicky can consider himself unlucky to be left out. Sometimes you make decisions that don’t please everybody and I would imagine I made one on Saturday by dropping Nicky.
“Having said that, the fairest thing I can say about Nicky is that he is without doubt coming on leaps and bounds.
“His all-round game is continuing to improve and I genuinely believe a lot of that is down to him training with and watching Kris and Kenny.”
Rangers kept themselves in touch with Scottish Championship leaders Hearts as Lee McCulloch and Nicky Law hit first-half goals before Martin Scott pulled one back for Raith just after the break.
Miller and Boyd then gave Rangers breathing room before Daly’s late double.
Boyd looked a relieved man as he finally ended his eight-game scoring drought in the league after Rovers goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw palmed his tame 18-yard effort into the net.
The goal has taken a weight off the SPFL’s record scorer but he insists Rangers will not be able to take it easy in the Petrofac Training Cup like the Jambos did.
Robbie Neilson put out a second-string XI earlier this season against Livingston as he kept his top troops fresh for the promotion battle.
Livi ran riot with a 4-1 win but Boyd says Rangers will be under pressure to see off Gary Naysmith’s men.
He said: “At this club you cannot separate leagues and cups - you have to win every single thing you enter.
“So we’ve got another great opportunity on Tuesday night to put on a performance.
“We scored a few goals against Raith and will look to do the same against East Fife.
“It will be a hard game but if we go out with the same attitude we did on Saturday I don’t see any reason why we can’t win it convincingly as well.”