MARK WARBURTON admits that one of the challenges he faces as a manager is keeping every player in his squad happy and maintaining the positive team spirit which has been evident since he joined the club along with David Weir.
While delighted to have competition for places in his starting eleven across the pitch at present, the gaffer realises that having a bigger squad means some players getting less game time which, in turn, can lead to frustration and disappointment.
Speaking to RangersTV yesterday, Warburton was keen to emphasise the importance of every player in his squad and that, when their chance to get back in the team arrives, they have to grab it with both hands.
On Saturday, Philippe Senderos returned to the Gers starting XI against Partick Thistle and he helped his side keep a clean sheet and secure three points in what was just his second appearance for the club.
This is the kind of reaction the manager wants and he believes having hungry players waiting in the wings is essential for any club targeting success.
He said: “This is an important point. In terms of Philippe, Clint was ill and he would have played [against Partick Thistle], Philippe knows that.
“Clint has been very good but Philippe came in and his experience is evident and he’s technically very comfortable on the ball.
“He leads very well and he played half a game for the 20s and the feedback was tremendous in terms of how he helped the young players and spoke to the young players.
“So that’s fine, but the competition for places is a real delicate area, because the unity within the squad is so important to us.
Players know we have to go and get better players all the time, a club of Rangers’ stature has to keep pushing forward.
“Whereas last year maybe players almost had their place for granted, now they know there is competition, but it has to be that way.
“It’s how we respond to disappointment will be a key indicator for us.
“We may have four good centre halves and I could pick any of those four, but two will be disappointed on any one day.
“Look at our centre forwards in terms of Kenny, Waggy, Joe Garner and Joe Dodoo – again I could pick any one of them without any hesitation, but again there will be players disappointed.
“Some guys won’t make the 18; Rob Kiernan has been outstanding for the club, so much ability and he will have a big career for Rangers going forward.
“He was the 19th player recently and it’s a tough one, but it’s how they respond and Rob’s professionalism shows through, his work ethic here.
“What’s the answer to it? Go and work harder, that’s the answer. When we lost in the Old Firm game it hurt everyone, but what’s the answer? Work harder, and that’s what we have to do.
“There is no moping, there is no showing your frustration, there is no responding poorly to criticism.
“Just put your head down and work hard, if you do that sooner or later your chance will come and what the players have to do, and what the staff have to do, is make sure that when we get an opportunity we take it.”