MARK WARBURTON believes Saturday’s friendly win over Linfield was an ideal challenge for his side ahead of this weekend’s game with Celtic.

The Ibrox boss witnessed his side blast seven goals past the Belfast men at Windsor Park without replay, and while thrilled with the manner of the victory and the performance, he expressed his thanks to the Northern Irishmen for how welcoming they were to the Rangers travelling party.

Speaking exclusively to today, Warburton explained: “It was a very worthwhile exercise. We wanted to go over there, bed some more players in and start to gel as a team, and Linfield provided a good opposition for us.

“I was delighted to go over there and it was a pleasure to receive the hospitality and we enjoyed the whole experience. I understand in recent years Linfield have been very good to Rangers so it was nice to reciprocate and it was a very worthwhile game – a good one for Jamie Mulgrew’s testimonial, so all in all, a really good day out.

“We were good, and Linfield is the type of game you will go and play in the Europa League and these types of tournaments, and we were conscious of the threat they were posing. We were very dominant though, we moved the ball well, scored individually some good goals but team-wise it was a good performance overall.”

Warburton was also pleased to welcome Martyn Waghorn and Josh Windass back into his fold for the Linfield clash, as well as being afforded the opportunity to challenge some of his players in different positions from what they may normally be used to.

The Ibrox boss continued:

“Josh got a good hour and looked very strong, fit and got forward. Likewise, Waggy came on and played high before dropping in to a midfield role for us and that allowed us to look at different people in different positions.

“It’s great to welcome them back, and touch-wood we will have a full squad to choose from, the only exception being Joe Dodoo, who unfortunately suffered in the Kilmarnock game, and he is facing four or five weeks on the sidelines.

“He is a quick healer by the looks of things though, and fingers-crossed he will come back sooner than expected. All in all, it was a really pleasing weekend for us.”

And while he revealed playing an additional fixture during an international break isn’t something that was always come into contention, Warburton is already turning his eyes to the winter break and what he will do with his players then.

He added: “Not so much international breaks – this time we played on the Friday night and it was going to be over two weeks until the next game, and we were very aware of that.

“If it works for us, we will do it. The one that concerns is January and the three-week break, and what we do there. I am sure teams will be scrambling for games, so we have to make sure we are prepared for that.”

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