STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

McAllister: Festive period is key to Rangers’ title hopes

The Rangers assistant manager is hoping to succeed in 'tough' winter fixtures.

McAllister: Festive period is key to Rangers’ title hopes SNS Group
Rangers extended their Premiership lead with a win over Motherwell.

Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister believes that a strong set of results in the next two weeks will go a long way towards a successful season for the team.

A run of festive fixtures begins with a trip to St Johnstone on Wednesday night and the side then play Hibernian at Ibrox and St Mirren in Paisley before hosting Celtic in the second derby of the season on January 2.

Rangers are currently 16 points ahead of their rivals at the top of the table, although Celtic have three games in hand.

Taking the lion’s share of the 12 points on offer in the next two weeks could be significant.

“In my experience of playing football over this period, it’s always key,” McAllister said. “Christmas and New Year games are always key in any league, especially in the UK where there’s loads of games and the scheduling is really tough.

“If you can come through it then it goes a long way towards where you are going to finish at the end of the season.

“It’s a massive week to ten days of high-intensity games, tough games, and just the fact that they keep coming every two or three days makes it more difficult.

“If we can come through there nice and clean then we’ll be happy.”

After being asked about an improved mentality in the squad as they chase silverware, McAllister pointed to their most recent game as proof of the players’ ability to recover from setbacks.

“If we just go back to last weekend against Motherwell, we went a goal behind and then after being asked the question to break down two lines of five I thought there was good maturity, variation on our play,” he said.

“But just that continual pressure on Motherwell, probing and being patient got us our just rewards and we were worthy winners at the end.”

Alfredo Morelos returns from suspension for the St Johnstone game and McAllister also gave an update on midfielder Ryan Jack.

He said: “The pleasing thing is that Ryan Jack has had a couple of good days on the grass.

“He’s back and we’re pretty hopeful that he can be in and around the squad for Hibs on Boxing Day. That’s a big boost going into this busy schedule.”