24 Aug Warburton positive for Celtic
Rangers boss Mark Warburton believes Celtic have taken a major step forward on behalf of Scottish football – but he is not fretting about their potential £30million Champions League windfall.
The Hoops will join Europe’s elite clubs in Thursday’s group-stage draw for UEFA’s top competition after dumping out Israeli champions Hapoel Be’er Sheva over a two-legged play-off.
Celtic’s success will earn the rest of the Ladbrokes Premiership teams – including the Light Blues – a £250,000 UEFA bonus as well as a vital shot in the arm for Scotland’s flagging coefficient.
B ut it will also flood the Parkhead coffers with millions of pounds in TV cash and prize money.
What is a boost for the nation’s European standing could also turn out to be a blow for Gers’ title hopes if Celtic are able to reinvest that jackpot into Brendan Rodgers’ playing squad.
However, Warburton is refusing to panic.
He said: “It’s a positive. It’s a Scottish club progressing to the Champions League group stages.
“It absolutely has to be a positive. It would be stupid to say anything other than that.
“But I can’t control it so I’m never going to worry about Aberdeen, Hearts, Celtic or anyone else.
“Nothing we can do here can control what happens away from us, so all we can focus on is what we can control.
“We’ll concentrate on our training, our work here, the analysis and all the other things we do.
“But away from us, why worry about it?”
Warburton is also refusing to rush into concluding his transfer business with former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos – despite rival interest from 1860 Munich.
The Swiss centre-back – who has been on trial at Auchenhowie for the past week – is the leading contender to become Gers’ 11th and final signing of the summer window following the collapse of Warburton’s move for Aston Villa’s Joleon Lescott.
Warburton is keen on the 31-year-old but said: “He’s still looking at us and we’re looking at him. That’s how it works. He’s come in and done very well. We’re very impressed. He’s a good character.
“His CV is very impressive and hopefully we can come to a suitable conclusion very quickly. The conversation is going on and when we can announce something we will do.
“We’re making progress but I don’t think we’re too far away.
“There are other options we’re looking at and I’m sure he has other options as well. We’re trying to move it forward but you never know.
“Would those offers elsewhere impact how quickly we move? No. We’ve got to do the right thing by Rangers. Philippe has got to do the right thing by him. It’s about all the parties making sure the deal works for everyone concerned. If we do that then great, if not then we shake hands and wish him all the best.”
Rangers travel to Rugby Park on Friday night to face Kilmarnock and it could turn out to be a milestone occasion for striker Kenny Miller if he can add to the 99 goals he has netted for the club.
“Would you bet against him reaching 100 goals? I wouldn’t,” insisted Warburton as he praised the 36-year-old. “His attitude is first class. The way he trains speaks volumes about Kenny Miller. From a role model perspective, he gives the best every single day.
“There is no doubt about his ability, his attitude, his character. Kenny is as hungry as ever. I wouldn’t bet against him scoring a lot more than 100.”
Gers will take on Lee Clark’s squad without the injured Josh Windass, Jason Holt and Matt Crooks.
All three midfielders are making progress, but Warburton admits he will have to bide his time with Crooks as the former Accrington player steps up his recovery from ankle surgery.
He said: “Matt played an hour for our under-20s against St Mirren last night. It was his first game for five months and looked very comfortable. He’s a good athlete and has trained really well.
“He’s a great technical player too and is 6ft 4in, so he gives us great physicality. But we have to go at the right pace with him.
“I’m not going to put a date on his return but he’s working hard with the medical team and touch wood is still pain free. Hopefully we will get him involved in the friendly with Linfield next week and build from there. When he’s ready, we’ll pick him.”