Rangers boss Mark Warburton was again staying tight-lipped on the Joey Barton saga after seeing his side cruise into the semi-finals of the Betfred Cup.
But Warburton insists his players have been well warned about the dangers of betting on football after it emerged controversial midfielder Barton faces a gambling probe.
Gers put the off-field issues surrounding the 34-year-old to one side as they thumped Queen of the South 5-0, with Jason Holt, Andy Halliday and hat-trick hero Martyn Waghorn doing the damage.
The classy manner of his side’s victory was a welcome distraction for Warburton following another testing day in which Barton was again at the centre.
The former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR player has been accused of breaching Scottish Football Association rules on gambling after allegedly placing a bet on Celtic to lose heavily in last week’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.
If found guilty, he could land a ban to go with the three-week suspension Gers have already issued in the wake of last week’s training-ground bust-up.
Warburton refused to go into the specifics of the case but insisted he did not have to spell out the rules to the rest of his squad.
He said: “The players north and south of the border know the situation.
“There is a zero tolerance policy and that has been made very clear to them.”
Gers booked themselves into Wednesday’s draw for the last four of the Betfred Cup with exactly the kind of performance Warburton would have been looking for ahead of Sunday’s trip to Aberdeen.
Holt tucked away from close range midway through the opening period before Halliday – skipper for the night after Lee Wallace was rested – finished in style just after the hour.
Waghorn then netted with three deadly finished to kill off Queens.
The Light Blues can expect the customary hostile reception they always receive at Pittodrie as they roll up for their first visit in four years but Warburton is in more confident mood that he was after last week’s Old Firm drubbing.
Warburton said: “The players have been outstanding, all credit to them. They’ve worked really hard and we’re looking forward to what will now be a tough game on Sunday but we’re relishing that challenge.
“After what happened at Parkhead hard work is the only way of getting better.
“It was a pleasing night’s work. We asked them to dominate the football in the first half and we did that completely. The only complaint from us as a group is that it was 1-0 at half-time and it could have been more.
“We scored goals but missed a lot of chances as well. The only difference from Saturday against Ross County was that we were a little bit more clinical and it helps build momentum.
“Sunday will be intense but that’s why players come to Rangers. They want to play in these type of games.
“It will be a 20,000 sell out and an intimidating atmosphere and they will enjoy that. We are looking forward to the trip north.”
Warburton pulled Josh Windass out of his team just moments before kick-off after the forward felt tightness in his hamstring, while a thigh issue prevented Holt from re-appearing after the interval.
But Warburton said both calls were precautionary, adding: “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Doonhamers boss Gavin Skelton was disappointed his Ladbrokes Championship leaders failed to cause Gers more problems.
“I didn’t think we played as well as we can in the first half,” he said. “We started the second half not too bad actually but it’s stating the obvious that goals do change games. We were on top for the first 10 minutes but then the second goal kills it.”