Martyn Waghorn has claimed Rangers will be ready to mount a credible title challenge to Celtic within the next six months, despite the comprehensive dominance the Scottish champions have exerted under Brendan Rodgers.
Celtic go into today’s final Old Firm fixture of the season at Ibrox still on course to achieve an historic and unprecedented undefeated domestic campaign.
Rodgers’ men have won four and drawn one of the previous five games against Rangers, most recently cruising to a largely one-sided 2-0 win in last Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
Treble-chasing Celtic are 33 points ahead of their old rivals in the Premiership table with the gulf between them prompting many observers to suggest it will take several years before Rangers can seriously compete for top spot again.
But Rangers striker Waghorn insists a revamped Ibrox squad under new manager Pedro Caixinha can close in on Celtic as soon as next season.
“I wouldn’t say we are years off Celtic,” said Waghorn. “With a new manager, who will make changes in the summer, it will be another six months or so down the line and we should be challenging.
“At times, we have actually played very well against Celtic. Don’t get me wrong, at the start of the season we were miles off it. But we have shown over the course of the season that we have grown and got better and learned from it.
“Listen, we are Rangers, you can’t have years when you aren’t challenging in the top flight. Hopefully we will be in Europe next season and we need to be competing on all fronts. Hopefully we are not years behind Celtic, definitely not. I think we are not too far away.
“It is important that we build on the game at Celtic Park last month when we drew 1-1, the chances that we had that day. We have created chances and it is important that we are bit more ruthless, both for myself and other players. It is important in these big games, when you only get one or two chances, and that could be the difference going forward.
“You have to challenge on all fronts when you are at Rangers, whether that is the title or the cups. We need to be there and thereabouts. I have come here to win trophies and I know that is what I want to achieve. It is important that we come back next season, after hopefully a good end to this one, ready to get back at Celtic”.