By Wayne Veysey

13th Jan, 2017 | 6:39am

Charlie Nicholas destroys five Rangers players as he pans their challenge to Celtic

By Alex Stevens

Charlie Nicholas has claimed that the root of Rangers’ flimsy title challenge lies in bargain-basement transfer market dealings.

The Sky Sports pundit claimed they can’t keep up with Celtic because of their lack of ambition and willingness to fund top-level signings.

Ex-Celtic striker Nicholas highlighted the captures of Josh Windass and Matt Crooks from Accrington and Joe Garner from Preston last summer, and Martyn Waghorn and James Tavernier from Wigan 12 months earlier,  as symptomatic of the lack of transfer intent from the Ibrox giants.

He claimed that Rangers’ challenge to Celtic this season has been “embarrassing” and believes the lack of competition in the Scottish top flight is a massive turn-off.

Celtic went into the winter break with the Scottish Premiership title all but wrapped up after establishing a seemingly unassailable 19-point lead over second-placed Rangers, with a match in hand.

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“I actually quite like what Mark Warburton’s trying to do,” Nicholas said, as quoted by the Scottish Sun. “There have been failures because he’s been signing bargain-basement footballers.

“It feels to me as though Rangers still have issues in the background that we know nothing about. Somewhere along the line Dave King and his group need to open up a financial avenue or Warburton will go.

“You can’t bring in two guys from Accrington Stanley and another two from Wigan — who were on their way down — plus a guy from Preston, who looked as though he’d run out of ideas and expect them to understand the special pressure there is at Ibrox. They don’t get it and that’s why Warburton needs to go to big clubs.

“Kenny Miller, at 37, is still their best forward. but he shouldn’t be in the team. He should be sitting on the bench and getting an occasional 10-minute cameo.”

Rangers are preparing for a friendly against Bundesliga big hitters RB Leipzig as they step up preparations for the second half of the campaign.

Warburton’s team resume their league programme on 28 January, when they travel to Motherwell for a lunchtime kick-off.

In other Rangers transfer news, fans reacted on Twitter to Jon Toral’s signing.

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