Danny Wilson’s focus turns to promotion race

Experience has taught Danny Wilson that Rangers are four weeks into a three-month period set to frame their season. A top-flight winner in his previous spell at the Ibrox club he rejoined in the summer, as well as captain of Hearts’ Championship-winning side last season, the 23-year-old is in no doubt about the importance of Raith Rovers’ visit to the southside of Glasgow tomorrow.

Danny Wilson in action for Rangers. Picture: Michael Gillen

Following the draw with Livingston nine days ago, the encounter provides Mark Warburton’s team with the opportunity to restore a three-point lead over Hibernian at the summit of the second tier. On the back of booking their place in the Petrofac Training Cup final with a thumping 4-0 win over St Mirren on Saturday, Wilson is looking for more of the same against the Kirkcaldy team.

“I think as the season goes on, particularly between November and February, it’s just all about getting the results,” he said. “I think if you look at any league it turns into that. There are definite similarities between last season and this season. With our game in hand on Tuesday, we need to take care of that and get ourselves back winning in the league.”

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The reality is Rangers have been winning in the league, apart from the trip to Livingston and the recent loss at Easter Road. The fact that Hibs have been faultless has made these odd slips appear more acute, but Wilson has no concerns over Rangers’ mentality.

“The criticism that has come our way has been a little bit over the top because in the games we haven’t won, we didn’t play badly, it was just the result didn’t go our way,” he said. “But it’s a results business and we are expected to win. The pressure’s higher because of the league that we are in and that’s something we are going to have to deal with.”

Having played for Rangers in the Champions League and a League Cup final, Wilson was hardly going to be doing cartwheels at reaching the Challenge Cup showpiece, against Peterhead, almost certainly at Hampden, on 10 April. Yet, far better to be there than not.

“In football, you can’t pick and choose the trophies you win,” he said. “We’re in the Petrofac Cup final, so it’s up to us to show the right mentality now to go out and win it. We’ve not taken any of the games lightly so far. We now have one more hurdle to get over to lift the trophy, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

Wilson’s last appearance in a final at Hampden earned him a League Cup winners’ medal in 2009. But as he was red-carded as Rangers were reduced to nine men in seeing off St Mirren, he admitted: “It doesn’t hold the best memories for me. It was a strange day, but the team still won so that was the main thing.”

Silverware successes were regular events for Wilson in his first spell with Rangers, even if he doesn’t consider he has won the Scottish Cup as a result of being an unused substitute in the 2009 final. Even the most minor 
baubles such as the Petrofac-branded one matter then because they can help set a tone for the Warburton era, not least because, in the previous three seasons, a lower-league Rangers have endured torture and nothing else in the tournament.

“We are trying to get back to that kind of mentality [where winning is the norm] – regardless of what competition we are playing in. Winning is a good habit and we just want to continue in the current vein. Obviously there are certain long-term aims at the club. But our priority right now is just to focus on the short-term, which means trying to be as successful as we can.”