By support

14th Jan, 2017 | 4:23pm

Rangers senior figure delivers verdict on title race

By Matt Farr

Rangers defender James Tavernier admits that European qualification is a more realistic target than winning the Scottish title this season.

Mark Warburton’s side are currently second in the Scottish Premiership, but they trail rivals Celtic by a massive 19 points.

However, despite admitting that the title was out of reach, Tavernier insisted that Rangers were constantly improving, and have come on leaps and bounds since their 5-1 defeat to Celtic in September.

The 25-year-old defender hailed the improvements his side have made since their Parkhead disappointment, where they have lost just twice in the league from the 17 games that followed.

They gave a much-improved display when they went head-to-head with Celtic again on December 31, but they still found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat.

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Tavernier told the Daily Record: “It was disappointing [the defeat] but compared to where we were when we lost 5-1 at Parkhead – we’ve come on leaps and bounds since then.

“The gap has definitely shortened. We were only a step away from beating Celtic at Ibrox. Our aim for the rest of the season is to cement second place in the league and get closer to Celtic.

“We need to do our best to shorten the gap and ensure we qualify for Europe. We felt we got closer to them at Ibrox and I expect more improvement the next time we play them at their place.”

Several former Rangers figures have recently questioned the gap between the two sides, including ex-boss Walter Smith, who claimed on Tuesday that Rangers must spend-big in the transfer window to halt Celtic’s dominance in Scotland.

The Hoops have won the last five consecutive league titles, and having gone the entire domestic season unbeaten so far, look certain to add a sixth.

For Rangers, meanwhile, they will also have one eye on Aberdeen, who sit just two points behind them in third-place.

The Scottish Premiership campaign resumes on Wednesday 25 January, when Celtic look to take advantage of their game in-hand against St. Johnstone.

In other Rangers news, the Gers have been handed a boost as this injured star could make an early return.

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