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Burnley defeat convinces Rangers boss Mark Warburton of need to invest in defence

Andre Gray takes the acclaim after putting Burnley ahead from the spot (SNS Group)
Andre Gray takes the acclaim after putting Burnley ahead from the spot (SNS Group)

Mark Warburton hopes to sign a defender before his side’s first Premiership match of the season against Hamilton on Saturday.

If the Ibrox boss had been swithering about recruiting another player, then his team’s defeat by Burnley will have made up his mind.

In front of a crowd of 21,818, the English side exposed a real lack of pace at the heart of the Ibrox defence.

Veteran Clint Hill, recently signed after his release by QPR, struggled and was less than impressive at all three goals.

Warburton said afterwards: “We need one or two more. We’ve said that for a number of weeks but you’ve got to get the right players in.

“There are Burnley players rated at £25 million and we can’t pay that kind of money.

“It’s a smaller talent pool but we know what we want and if we can get it, we’ll make the move.

“I hope we do that before Saturday. Our officials are working on it.”

Rangers’ defender Danny Wilson tried to take a positive from the defeat.

He said: “It’s disappointing but it shows us that we’ve got a lot of work to do.

“If it’s going to act as an early wake-up call, it’s better now than six or 10 games into the season.”

Burnley's Andre Gray (7) scores his side's second goal (SNS Group)
Burnley’s Andre Gray (7) scores his side’s second goal (SNS Group)

Scouts from other Scottish teams will have seen Burnley produce the perfect blueprint for beating Rangers.

Fortunately for the Ibrox fans, their favourites won’t face opposition as pacey and powerful as Burnley every week.

The massive gulf between top level football in England and Scotland was there for all to see.

Burnley pressed Rangers high up the pitch and that really threw them out of their stride.

Whether teams in Scotland have the bravery and the fitness to play this way remains to be seen.

Although the outcome was a disappointing one for the Ibrox men, it was the sort of work-out Warburton was looking for.

He has made little secret of his displeasure at the way pre-season has been structured.

The early start to the League Cup has meant Rangers have been playing the likes of East Stirlingshire and Stranraer when they would rather have been facing more illustrious opposition.

Warburton said: “You can’t build-up and have the games that we’ve had.

“Burnley manager Sean Dyche said to me they tried to analyse us to see what we did at set pieces over the last two games, but we haven’t had a corner against us.”

Niko Kranjcar showed he has lots of technical ability but is short on fitness.

He will undoubtedly pick up stamina as the season unfolds but it’s unlikely that Clint Hill will get any quicker at the age of 37.

His lack of pace was exposed straight away when he was adjudged to have fouled Andre Gray in the box.

It was a soft penalty award but the striker happily picked stroked home the spot kick.

Burnley went further ahead when Gray was again too sharp for Hill and slotted home unchallenged.

The 25-year-old completed his hat-trick after the break when he sauntered through a static defence and finished past former team-mate Matt Gilks.

Rangers grabbed a consolation when Michael O’Halloran’s cut-back was turned into his own net by Ben Mee.

Rangers had more of the play during the last third of the game, but Dyche was displeased at Burnley slackening off during that period.

He readily conceded there is a big gulf in quality between Scottish and English top-flight teams because of finance.

And although Rangers toiled in their last game before the league campaign, they will hope the opening Premiership fixture is a mirror image of this friendly.

You wouldn’t bet against it.


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