SCOTTISH FOOTBALL: Rangers boss Mark Warburton denies rift with Martyn Waghorn

Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn
Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn

Rangers manager Mark Warburton has assured a frustrated Martyn Waghorn his time will come.

Warburton described reports of a disagreement between the pair as “ludicrous” and stated that the answer to being left out of the team was to work harder.

Waghorn, Rangers’ top goalscorer last season, has had to be content with coming off the bench for the past four matches.

The former Leicester and Wigan striker suffered a hamstring injury in the Ladbrokes Premiership opener against Hamilton and has not scored a league goal since, although he bagged a cup hat-trick against Queen of the South.

Warburton said: “I read a report that we had a big fallout, which was quite interesting.

“Waggy knocked on the door and said: ‘Have we fallen out gaffer?’ I said: ‘Not as far as I’m aware, Waggy’. Far from it.

“He started five games in a row. He wants to play football, of course he does. When he is starting there are other guys that are frustrated.

“The decision (assistant manager) David (Weir) and I made was to increase the squad size from 21 to 23 because last year we literally ran out of bodies by the cup final.

“So we had to add numbers, which we did. That means if everyone is fit and well you are going to have one or two frustrated players.

“The answer? Work harder, just work harder. The hard work will be recognised and we will pick you. But there is no doubt about Waggy’s attitude. He is a first-class professional.

“He is frustrated but he shows it by working harder. When his time comes, which it will do shortly, then I’m sure he will be in shape to take it.”

One player who did fall out with Warburton was Joey Barton, whose brief, ill-fated spell at Ibrox finally came to an end last week with the termination of his contract.

Warburton is keen to put the episode behind him but he insisted the player’s suspension and stand-off with the club - following a training-ground row - was never a distraction.

“We are never going to lose focus,” he said. “The focus has to be on the players and the game. The players are the first to pick up if you’re not focused. I hope, touch wood, that’s never changed. It is just part and parcel of football.

“Whatever the matter, if the grass is too long on the pitch, if the food is cold in the canteen, whatever the subject, it’s part of football so you deal with it. I’m not trivialising any issue. What I’m saying is that it’s closed now and we move on from that.”

When asked whether the Barton affair would put him off signing another high-profile player, Warburton said: “Not at all. It’s about doing your homework, your diligence, you hope you get it right. You have got to make what you think are the right decisions at the right time, and that’s what you are paid for.”

Barton’s exit came after Niko Kranjcar was ruled out for the season with a knee injury. When asked if the loss of two experienced midfielders would influence his January transfer business, Warburton said: “Niko’s injury, absolutely. Niko provided a real cleverness.

“He is a master technician, you saw his ability with the ball. We have lost that, I’m not going to hide behind the fact we’ve lost a very talented player. So we will be looking to maybe replace in that area. We will have Jordan (Rossiter) to come back, Andy Halliday can play further forward, and Harry Forrester is waiting there as well.”