Warburton: Kranjcar Can Cope With Scottish Game
26 July 2016, 07:15
Rangers boss Mark Warburton insists Niko Kranjcar will be able to handle the rough and tumble of Scottish football after seeing the Croatian escape serious injury.
The 31-year-old fired home his first Gers goal against Stranraer as the Ibrox men rounded off their Betfred Cup group-stage schedule with a fourth straight win.
But Kranjcar was left wincing after Blues midfielder Ryan Thomson careered through the back of his legs near the end of the League One part-timers' 3-0 Ibrox defeat.
Despite ending up in a heap there was no damage done to the former Tottenham and Portsmouth playmaker and Warburton brushed off suggestions his summer signing needs greater protection from referees.
"It was a bad tackle but he got up, so he's fine touch wood,'' said the Englishman. "You don't play 80 caps for Croatia [if you need protecting], he can look after himself, don't worry about that.
"That was a bad tackle but we move on from it.
"Niko was good tonight, he got through the 90 although he tired after 75 minutes but he's working on that.''
But if Warburton is looking to add extra steel to his midfield he looks to have found it in the shape of former Liverpool youngster Jordan Rossiter.
The England youth international made his debut as a second-half substitute just days after returning from action at the Under-19s European Championships and wasted little time getting stuck into a few meaty challenges.
That impressed Warburton, who said: "He's fiery, he can look after the football and won't shy away from anything. We need that ruggedness in midfield.''
Gers were two goals up inside quarter of an hour after Martyn Waghorn tucked away a penalty before adding a second soon after.
The win was the Light Blues' fourth straight Group F victory and confirms their place in the last 16 of the new-look League Cup.
"There were lots of positives tonight,'' added the Rangers manager. "Joey Barton got an hour, Jordan got 30 minutes, while Niko and Harry Forrester got through 90 minutes.
"All the squad have had good pitch time now, four games in nine days and we've come through unscathed in terms of injury.
"We've had four clean sheets, so lots of positives.''
Stranraer boss Brian Reid said: "We made it hard for ourselves by giving them a gift of a start with the penalty. The most important thing about coming to a place like this was to keep it tight and try to frustrate and we didn't do that.
"It was the worst possible start as it gave them the lift and and we lost our way for a bit and it could have been a long night.
"It was a footballing lesson at times, you see what a good team they are with the way they move the ball but it was a good experience for my boys.
"It was a big ask as some of my players had only finished their work at 5pm. We dug in and we were never going to expect to come here and win.''