MARK WARBURTON believes Josh Windass played his best half of football in a Rangers jersey on Saturday and revealed he had to be replaced having picked up a knock.
Windass’ withdrawal after 65 minutes to make way for Barrie McKay saw some supporters in the Ibrox stands voice their displeasure at the decision, but Warburton insisted the move was purely in Windass’ best interests having already seen his early days at the club partially hampered by injuries.
Speaking exclusively this afternoon to RangersTV.tv at the Rangers Training Centre, Warburton explained: “Josh Windass is a young player who did exceptionally well – and I feel played his best half of football for Rangers in my mind. But for one, he had a kick on the ankle which stopped him training this morning, and I hope very much the crowd realise there was a reason why we were taking off a player who had been very effective up to that point.
“For young players, when fatigue kicks in, that’s when they get the niggling injuries – hamstrings and whatever else have interrupted his performances for Rangers. We have got to do the right thing for our young players and you look at the demands on their shoulders. Last year he was playing for Accrington and this year he is playing in front of 50,000 at Ibrox. The demands on such young shoulders are extensive and we have got to look after our players.
“I hope very much the crowd see why we did it, and also see the boys who came on had a good impact.”
Windass’ replacement McKay had a great impact on the game with his typical dynamism coming to the fore, even though he played the role in a deeper midfield role as opposed to the wing berth fans have become accustomed to seeing him in.
He has spent much of his time in recent weeks on the substitutes bench, but Warburton feels his spell out of the starting XI will have been a benefit to him.
The manager continued: “Barrie came on first and was superb. He drove us up the pitch and was bright, full of energy, was clever and looked to move the ball.
“Barrie is such a talented player, and you know what I think of Barrie McKay and how good a career he can have ahead of him. But he has had a lot of games with Rangers, been away with Scotland, and these couple of weeks have helped him to recharge the batteries.
“Barrie is good enough on the football to do that [play in midfield]. It’s a challenge for a young, attacking player like Barrie for his defensive responsibilities, and when the ball breaks down where does he need to be and what areas he needs to fill.
“It’s making sure if a player does that they understand the role they need to fill, but he can play wide left, wide right, number eight or number 10, and he has that flexibility we have talked about so much in the past. I’m delighted for him to see him that way, and credit to him for working hard and I think he will have a very big career ahead of him.
“He looked very bright and played in the 20s game last week and looked really good. He has a great work ethic and great commitment, and he took that into the game on Saturday.”
Warburton was speaking exclusively to RangersTV today. Subscribers can click HERE to watch the full interview.