Mark Warburton admits he has had to treat Josh Windass and Jordan Rossiter with kid gloves after the duo’s injury-plagued start to life at Rangers.
Former Accrington Stanley playmaker Windass has shown plenty of potential since making the move north this summer.
But the 22-year-old has been hampered by hamstring problems which have limited him to just 12 appearances from 23 games in all competitions so far.
Rossiter’s calf problems have also been frustrating for the Ibrox boss. The last of the former Liverpool midfielder’s six Rangers appearances came at the end of August but despite claims he has shown progress, the 19-year-old has failed to return to action.
Warburton is already down on numbers in midfield after Joey Barton’s ill-fated Ibrox stint was cut short, while Niko Kranjcar has been ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing knee ligaments.
The Ibrox manager could do with having his youngsters back in action but he admits the club’s medical staff are having to play it patiently as both players adjust to the demands of turning out regularly for the Glasgow side.
Windass could make his first appearance since picking up his latest knock in the 2-1 win over Partick Thistle last month when Hearts visit on Saturday, but Warburton stressed he will not take risks with either players’ well-being.
He told RangersTV: “Josh we hope will come back this week - again you have to look after young players and look at the bigger picture.
“We talk about the demands we place on young players coming to Rangers and that is everything, the expectation of the crowd, playing in front of 50,000 and dealing with a more intense training regime.
“Their body is adapting to the demands of that and Josh is a young player with a very bright future ahead of him but we have to look after him.
“I hope we are getting closer with Jordan too and fingers crossed I hope he will be available for selection soon.
“We have to look at the regime with Josh, what he is used to and that is no disrespect to any previous club but it is what they have been used to and what they are being asked to do now in terms of intensity of work.
“Hopefully these players will adapt, Josh and Jordan are young guys and it is still very, very early in their Rangers careers and hopefully they both have very long and fruitful careers ahead of them.”
Clint Hill will miss the Hearts clash after being sent off against Aberdeen at the weekend but Warburton is confident that Danny Wilson or Philippe Senderos will be able to fill the veteran’s slot alongside Rob Kiernan at the heart of the Rangers defence.
Warburton said: “Clint was excellent, I thought Clint and Rob on Saturday were both brilliant, it is great we have the options of Danny and Philippe but there is no doubt that Clint is showing his value, his worth, his experience and his aerial strength.
“Any player is a loss because we are tight on numbers, with Josh, Jordan and Niko all being out.
“Clint is a senior pro but Rob and Danny have played together countless times and Philippe has an excellent CV as well.
“The fact is Clint is 38, he has seen so much in football and can pass on that experience. Good mature senior pros can add that quality and they can help younger players play their best and provide that confidence.”