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Gary McAllister admits Christmas is ‘massive’ period in Rangers’ title bid

Rangers v Galatasaray – UEFA Europa League – Play-Off – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Ian MacNicol)

Gary McAllister admits Rangers’ Christmas run could define their title bid but he is refusing to fret over the potential for the new mutant coronavirus strain to throw a spanner in the works.

The Ibrox side begin a hectic festive schedule on Wednesday as they travel to Perth to face St Johnstone for the first of four games in just 11 days.

Hibernian visit Ibrox on Boxing Day before Gers must travel back to Paisley – scene of the Light Blues’ first defeat of the season in the Betfred Cup last week – to face St Mirren on December 30.

And they will kick-off 2021 on January 2 with a vital Old Firm clash as Celtic first-foot the home of the Premiership leaders.

And McAllister believes if Rangers can finish off that run with their current 16-point lead still intact then they will be sitting pretty for the title run-in.

The Gers assistant boss – an English league winner with Leeds back in 1992 – said: “Over my experience of playing football during this period and my memories of it are that it is always key.

“Christmas and New Year is always key in any league you play, especially here in the UK because there are loads of games and the scheduling is really tough.

“If you can come through it, it goes a long way to deciding where you’re going to finish at the end of the season.

“So I totally agree it is a massive week to 10 days of high intensity, tough games and just the fact they keep coming every three days makes it even more difficult.

“But it will be key. If we can come through here nice and clean, we’ll be happy.”

Gers overcame a major test on Saturday as they came from a goal down to claim their 10th straight win against Stephen Robinson’s ultra-defensive Motherwell side.

But more troubling challenges lie ahead if the new rapidly-spreading coronavirus stain continues its spread across the UK.

Last season’s Premiership crown was handed to Celtic when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the title race.

But the Scottish Professional Football League have yet to agree contingency plans that would kick-in to decide this year’s championship if another mass spike in cases means football is put back into cold storage.

The SPFL did write to its members in October seeking an agreement on rules which would either see the campaign declared null and void if not enough games had been played or to follow last season’s points-per-game method.

But SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster had to abandon his plans after admitting the clubs had failed to reach a consensus.

McAllister, however, is refusing to worry about what that will mean as Covid-19 continues to wreck havoc across the country.

“There are no concerns,” he said. “We don’t make the decisions as you quite rightly said but we have to be as disciplined.

“We have worked really hard to keep everybody away from this problem.

“We just need to keep as diligent as we possibly can and so we can focus on playing football.”

Alfredo Morelos returns from suspension for Wednesday’s clash, while there was also good news for boss Steven Gerrard on the injury front with the news that Ryan Jack could be set to return after more than a month out with a knee problem.

McAllister said: “The pleasing thing is that Ryan Jack has had a couple of good days on the grass. He’s back and we’re pretty hopeful that he can be in and around the squad for Hibs on Boxing Day. That’s a big boost going into this busy schedule.”