MARK Warburton says his Rangers players can’t afford a “hangover” from Sunday’s Old Firm defeat if they are to climb the league table.

The Gers boss has called on his squad to quickly clear their head after declaring their performance against Celtic brave after they were beaten by an 87th minute goal.

Warburton believes things have drastically changed since the last Glasgow derby and thinks the gap between the sides has now been closed.

Speaking to Rangers TV he said: “We just lost a semi-final here at Hampden to Celtic so you can imagine the emotion but at the same time we have two very important league games coming up.

“What we can’t have is a hangover from today and we have to look at today’s performance and there are many positives to come out of it.

“Don’t take that statement wrong but there are many positives to come from it and the second-half was very open.

“We are disappointed as a group because we went too long too often but that could have been the emotion of the game and there were some tired legs and you saw some players cramping up.

“I hope it was evident that things have changed since the last time, I hope you saw players being brave and every team can improve.

“We lost a game of football but I hope this so called gap is now a lot narrower than people think.

“Players stepped in and were brave and worked hard and we kept our shape and created chances in the second-half.

“We have to recognise what we can do better but that is why we are here, to get better every week, we need to give ourselves time and take care of the ball.

“We could be braver, more alert and quicker to the ball but we have to take the positives forward into our league campaign.”

Warburton started with an inventive team selection, choosing the play James Tavernier on the right of the front three.

Niko Kranjcar was ruled out in midweek with a knee injury and his manager was pleased with how his team adapted to the changes.

Warburton said: “Josh Windass hadn’t played for a few weeks and we had some injuries, we lost a good player in the week in Niko Kranjcar and we still have Danny Wilson and Jordan Rossiter out, who would have been involved today.

“There are no excuses but we lost some good players but players stepped in today. Lee Hodson did well and I was delighted for him to step in and play at that level and give that quality of performace.

“James Tavernier was asked to play out of position for a reason and he showed a real quality.

““We have to recognise in Tierney and Forrest they had two who made a dangerous combination but we got forward as well and we were brave.

“I was pleased with that and I think it is a risk but I trusted the squad and there was no problem with the personality.

“Clint Hill and Rob Kiernan did well too, there were some good performances and I was delighted with the substitutions in terms of the energy they added.”

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