Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits he’s looking forward to the winter break after a gruelling start to the season with fixtures crammed in before the World Cup.
Van Bronckhorst is preparing his side to face St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday in what will be their 27th game of the season so far.
The match is the last before the league shuts down for just over a month and the manager believes it’s been hard going playing twice a week so far.
In addition to the 14 league games so far, Rangers have had European qualifiers and the group stage of the Champions League.
“I don’t think it’s ideal how many games we play, and also in a really short period,” Van Bronckhorst said. “I think you see teams who are used to playing at a high level also struggling with injuries, and those are players who are used to playing a whole lot of high level games.
“For us, we’re to play above our level in the Champions League so it was already tough mentally and physically, and we have to do it in a shorter term. It makes it harder.
“It’s FIFA’s decision to organise a World Cup in November so it was always going to affect someone, and that’s the players and managers.”
“You have it after the season before so you can’t give an extra time off. We had to start the season with European qualifying. So I think the lesson for me would be not to organise another [winter] tournament again. For me, that’s the smartest thing to do.”
The Rangers boss has seen his squad hit by numerous injuries and has been unable to call on key players for important games. He’s now hopeful the squad can rest to avoid further injury, and that in the time off he can welcome players back into the squad and increase his options.
“It costs a lot of energy so yes, we need a break,” he said. “Just look at my squad and how many players we have unavailable.
“I think it’s normal that we’re waiting for the break and time to recover and refresh.
“I can’t say how many exactly but I know I want a bigger squad and more players to choose from when we play our first game back against Hibs. So far, I’m confident we’ll have players back.
“How many, I don’t know, but the medical department is going to push them to get people available.”
The injury list at Ibrox has grown this week with Fashion Sakala out and now striker Antonio Colak ruled out of the match on Saturday lunchtime.
“Antonio has a minor injury and tomorrow comes too early,” the manager said.
“We had to take him off on Wednesday and it is an injury, if you played in midweek again, he would probably make the squad.
“But, with so many games, it is impossible to get him ready for the game. So, he is out, he will be fine when we come back.”