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Clement warns against title-winning thoughts

Rangers manager Philippe Clement insisted he is not thinking about their chance to move top of the Scottish Premiership for the first time this season as the title race takes another twist.

Celtic’s slip-up at Aberdeen means the Ibrox side can move top, for 24 hours at least, if they beat the Dons by at least three goals on Tuesday night.

Clement’s side have won their last four league games since losing to their Old Firm rivals in December and are three points behind them with a game in hand.

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But the Belgian, who has been named Premiership Manager of the Month for January, insists no one should be thinking about Celtic ahead of facing Aberdeen.

“I hope not in the dressing room, also, but not in my thoughts. It is about yourself and thinking about the next game,” he told Sky Sports News.

“It is not about thinking in the next weeks and months (as a player) – that is my job to think about integrating all the players back into the squad.

“I’m pleased for the moment but I’m never satisfied that I will sit on the sofa and just enjoy, it doesn’t work that way.

Philippe Clement is Premiership manager of the month for January
Philippe Clement is Scottish Premiership Manager of the Month for January

“We need to keep this edge, we need to keep this hunger, we need to keep this desire.

“This team is not at their full maximum, we have new signings in, we need to integrate them in the team and we have a lot of players coming back from injury.

“We can only grow in the next couple of months.”

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Rangers drew with Aberdeen in their last league meeting in November

Neil Warnock will take charge of Aberdeen for the first time at Ibrox after being placed in interim charge until the end of the season.

Clement is not worried about what the new manager could do.

“I don’t think we’ve ever met, but it’s someone with a lot of experience in the game,” he added.

“We are focused on ourselves, so I don’t expect there being many changes in the way Aberdeen play or what they will do.

“We are ready for every scenario and things can change during games, so we’ve been training on that a lot in the last couple of months. We’re not focused on one thing, we know if a team does that we need to do that.”

Leon Balogun was forced off in Rangers' win over Livingston
Leon Balogun was forced off in Rangers’ win over Livingston

Defender Leon Balogun was forced off with a suspected fractured cheek in last Saturday’s 3-0 win against Livingston and Clement is unsure when he will return.

“He’s with the surgeon to check what to do, for sure he will not be available for tomorrow.”

The manager revealed Ryan Jack will also miss the match as he continues his return from injury.

“Ryan Jack will not be in the selection tomorrow because he comes out of injury and he has a history of injuries.

“It is only a short recovery time between the two games, so I will not take the risk with him.”

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