Rangers seeking to add Premier League striker and defender

Rangers manager Mark Warburton still wants a striker and a central defender, most likely on loan. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Rangers manager Mark Warburton still wants a striker and a central defender, most likely on loan. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

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Rangers are unlikely to complete the summer revamp of their first-team squad before they formally kick off their return to the top flight of Scottish football next week.

Manager Mark Warburton has already signed nine new players in advance of the Scottish Premiership campaign but is still ideally seeking two more – a striker and a central defender – in the current transfer window.

So far, all of Rangers’ new recruits have been permanent signings, but Warburton is likely to utilise the loan market – as he did last season by recruiting Gedion Zelalem from Arsenal and Dominic Ball from Tottenham – as he concludes his business.

With most English Premier League clubs yet to decide which of their players will be available for loan, Warburton does not anticipate being able to make any further signings before Rangers’ league opener against Hamilton at Ibrox on 6 August.

“I don’t think we’ll get the players we’re looking for before the start of the league season,” said Warburton.

“I’m quite relaxed about that. Premier League teams will come back from their tours of Asia, America or wherever at the end of July and beginning of August and that’s when the loan market starts to kick in and pick up.

“That was when we managed to pick up Gedion and Dom last year. So if we can move quickly and the right players become available, then great. But we are not going to act just for the sake of it.

“At this stage, it’s not about quantity but more about quality. If we can find a striking option with the calibre of attributes we don’t currently possess then great, we’ll move.

“But we already have high quality all over the park in every single position. People keep asking me what is my best 11. It’s not about 11. It’s a squad game now.

“We could also be looking for a 6ft 4in centre-half to add to the aerial presence, but we’ve already got Matt Crooks to come into things after injury and he could be an option for us in that position.”

Rangers complete their pre-season programme with a friendly against English Premier League side Burnley at Ibrox.

Warburton expects it to provide a far sterner examination of his team, especially in defence, than was provided by their Betfred Cup group in which they defeated Motherwell, Annan, East Stirlingshire and Stranraer without conceding a goal.

“We’ve dominated the games of football and kept four clean sheets,” he said. “There’s been no real questions asked of us defensively and that’s difficult for the goalkeepers.

“We put Wes Foderingham in for two of the games and Matt Gilks in for the other two, but they haven’t had much to do and that’s testament to the good work of the team. Much of our work in pre-season has been on the defensive side as well as improving offensively.

“Saturday against Burnley will be a step up for us. I’ve spoken to their manager Sean Dyche and they will put out a very strong team.

“It will be a tough test, but these are exactly the kind of games we need. Our match fitness is good.

“We’ve worked hard in training, we worked really hard at our training camp in Charleston and you’ve seen our fitness and our performances improve as the games go by.

“It’s an English Premier League team now. They were deserved winners of the Championship last season so it’s a definite step up in quality. They are well organised and very well managed.”

Rangers will be seeded in the draw for the second round of the Betfred Cup which will be made on Sunday. But despite the convincing manner of his team’s qualification, Warburton remains unhappy over the scheduling of fixtures in the new group stage and has urged the SPFL to change it in future.

“I understand why the changes to the format were made but you’ve got to learn from your mistakes,” he added.

“I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. For a pre-season programme you’d like to think you start lower and build up to a tempo where you get the toughest test before the league programme starts.

“But we had another Premiership club in Motherwell as our first game and I’m sure they would say that wasn’t the best for them either. It would have been better if that had been the last of the four games.

“Also, could we have played four games in 12 or 13 days instead of playing four games in nine or ten days? We probably could have done.”

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