Mark Warburton has once again slammed the impending return of the winter shutdown, insisting it will do more harm than good.
The Rangers manager feels there is no benefit to taking a three-week break in January as it only prolongs the season, meaning there is less recovery time in the summer especially with European qualifiers scheduled for 28 June.
Equally, he feels there is a risk that top-flight sides will be rusty and susceptible to elimination from the William Hill Scottish Cup when they return to action on 21 January.
He said: “The cup final is on 28 May, the first Europa League game is on 28 June and in between is a small fixture between Scotland and England on 11 June. What do you do?
“I’m looking at our players – Lee Wallace, Barry McKay and the likes – and what break do they have? Even if we don’t make the cup final we still finish a week earlier, 21 May, and it’s only five weeks.
“If you are involved in the international fixture, what break do you get? And the European fixture is obviously important for Scotland and the clubs individually of course.
“Could we not play through the winter break and finish up at the end of April, play the cup final on 7 May and give the boys more of a break? For the quality of the product, the players deserve one. To give them three weeks, they need that minimum ‘golden window’.
“The first game back is the cup tie. There are far more questions – if you are a Premier League team not playing in that three-week period and you come up against a very strong Championship team, I would have thought you would get more Premier League teams knocked out in that round than any other. I believe Falkirk beat Hearts 4-0 in this scenario a few years ago. It’s about preparation when you’re playing against a match-fit, battle-hardened side, potentially.
“What do you do when the World Cup and the Euros are on? Qatar, a winter World Cup, is not that far away. What do they do then?”
Rangers will aim to hold on to second spot tomorrow when they travel to Dingwall to face a Ross County side who have lost four goals in three of their last four fixtures and have not won since August.
The game comes too soon for Jordan Rossiter, but Danny Wilson could be back in the squad.
Warburton said: “They didn’t deserve some of the results they have had in the last two or three games. It flattered the opposition and they are a good team. Liam Boyce is back up front and they have good pace and width. If you let them play they will play. So this is not an easy test. We are well aware of what we face. But we are in good form and we are looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile former Rangers midfielder Alex Rae has expressed his sympathy with Warburton over the Joe Barton saga, hoping that the player will move on in January.
Rae said: “I think everybody hoped he would be one of the marquee signings. I thought he would do well because I had seen him play in the Championship.
“It just hasn’t worked. The manager had a decision to make and he has made that.
“I would expect something to be concluded in January in terms of Joey moving on and I think that would probably suit most people.
“It has been a saga from the off and I think it probably affected the whole environment.
“Everybody has to settle down and Rangers have to kick on to try and secure a high position in the league and close the gap on Celtic.”