By Tom Blackburn
Mark Warburton says the added competition for places within the Rangers squad has forced players to up their game – and they have responded in style.
The Gers manager has already added eight new players to his squad, Oguchi Onyewu is on trial and he is hoping to bring a striker to Ibrox this week.
Northern Ireland international Lee Hodson is a signing expected to make an impact in the squad once he returns from a break that he was granted to recover from the trip to Euro 2016.
Talking to the Scottish Daily Record, Warburton said that players are clearly ready for fight for their places.
“All credit to James Tavernier and Lee Wallace for playing every minute of every game last season. It’s testament to their fitness and hard work,” Warburton told the Daily Record.
“But Lee Hodson has not come in here just to make up the numbers. He is an international player and he wants to play.
“There is no doubt he will push those guys really hard. Tav and Lee will know there’s a challenge.
“The public perception is that players don’t want new signings coming in because they want to keep their shirt. It doesn’t work that way.
“The better players want new players coming in. They want competition. They want to be challenged. They want to feel that every day in training counts.
“The very first day Matt Gilks had in training, we saw a reaction from Wes Foderingham right away and that’s what we want. We need good players coming in.”
The Glasgow giants have made a number of marquee signings as they prepare to lock horns with Celtic and the other Scottish Premiership sides after four years in the wilderness.
Former Premier League players Joey Barton, Nico Kranjcar and Clint Hill have brought a wealth of experience to the squad but will have to fight for the spots in a big squad.
Despite the competition for places, Warburton insists there is an excellent atmosphere off the field and none of the unity that helped win promotion last season has been lost.
“I’ve seen Niko Kranjcar in training and he looks excellent. He will put pressure on Andy Halliday and Jason Holt in midfield. The addition of Jordan Rossiter and Harry Forrester means we have options now – and good ones,” Warburton told the Daily Record.
“I had a coffee with Kenny Miller and he says the unity in the dressing room is excellent and we wouldn’t do anything to damage that.”
In other Rangers news, Barton’s mentor has made a bold claim about the temperamental Rangers star.