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Clement: No pressure on Rangers after going top in title race

Philippe Clement insists his Rangers squad are under no added pressure after going top of the Scottish Premiership table.

The Ibrox side are two points clear of Celtic having picked up maximum points in 16 of their 18 games under the Belgian.

It is much changed times at the club, who at one stage were 10 points behind the champions before Michael Beale was sacked, setting up a fascinating climax to the season.

The first of seven games before the split – a run that also includes an Old Firm clash at Ibrox on April 7 on Sky Sports – will see the Gers face in-form Hearts, but Clement says their approach on Saturday will be no different despite going top.

“I started in the first team when I was 17 and I had the luck to play in a lot of teams that played for titles,” he said.

“I have been a lot of times in that situation. It is not about looking at the others, it is not about looking forward or backwards, it is about looking at yourself.

“We are going to continue what we have been doing and we are totally not busy with looking backwards, like we were not busy with looking forwards a few weeks ago.

“I don’t feel any pressure in this group. I feel a lot of hunger, desire, will, good motivation, good quality in the training.

“That is the way we will go until the end of the season. I am really not interested in how many points other teams have. It is only about us being ambitious to try and win every game. It is all about.”

Cantwell out for weeks as Roofe returns

Todd Cantwell celebrates after scoring Rangers' third goal against Livingston
Image: Todd Cantwell is out for around three to four weeks due to a hamstring injury

Rangers will be without Todd Cantwell for up to four weeks, however, after the in-form midfielder picked up a hamstring injury.

“Of course, that is a disappointment for him, for the team, because he was in really good form,” added Clement. “But it is part of football and we coped with those things the last couple of months also.

“It is about other players stepping up and showing the right things for the team. On the other side, Kemar [Roofe] trained a few times this week with the group.

DINGWALL, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 26: Rangers' Kemar Roofe (L) celebrates making it 1-0 with John Lundstram during a cinch Premiership match between Ross County and Rangers at the Global Energy Stadium, on August 26, 2023, in Dingwall, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Image: Kemar Roofe (left) is back for Rangers after recent injury troubles

“He will be back in the squad but for sure not to play a half or something. It will be for not too many minutes but it could be important at the end of the game you can put him, with his goal-scoring qualities and experience, into the game.”

Clement braced for in-form Shankland and Hearts

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 02: Hearts' Lawrence Shankland celebrates at full-time during a cinch Premiership match between Livingston and Heart of Midlothian at the Tony Macaroni Arena, on January 02, 2024, in Livingston, Scotland. (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)
Image: Lawrence Shankland has scored 18 league goals this season

Hearts have won their last eight games in a row and not lost a game in their last 12 outings – largely thanks to the impressive form of Lawrence Shankland.

Rangers were heavily linked with a move for the striker – who has scored 18 league goals this season – and Clement insists his players need to be wary of the Scotland international and his team-mates.

He said: “We have played now for the fourth time already. It is a team with a lot of quality, a team who is well organised, that counts on a very important player to score goals and that has scored more than 50 per cent of their goals.

“It is the third best defence until now in the league which proves that they are well organised and they are not afraid to wait to pick their moments.

“For us, it will be to break open that wall, to be dominant but not be naïve and not to get transitions, not to get set-pieces because they are strong in that also. And play our normal game with our fantastic fans behind us in Ibrox.

“It is not only to be focused on him [Shankland] and forget the rest because then there will be other guys who make the difference. We never go into games thinking about one player.

“I played with my team last year against Messi, Neymar and Mbappe in the same game but we were not focused on them, we were focused on our way, how we need to play and how we need to stop them but using them also to attack. That worked in a good way. It is always my philosophy to be more focused on ourselves.”

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