Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits Rangers squad will alter preparation amid SPFL fixture rescheduling ahead of St Mirren clash

The Light Blues boss is preparing his side for a difficult test against St Mirren on Boxing Day

Giovanni van Bronckhorst insists Rangers must respect the decision made by the SPFL board members to bring forward the winter break, despite the Ibrox club voting against the proposed idea.

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The Gers had made it clear they preferred to continue playing until the scheduled January shut down of Scotland’s top-flight.

However, the decision was taken after an SPFL meeting to push back fixtures from December 29 and January 2-3 to January 17-18 and February 1-2 respectively.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst saw his side maintain their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-0 win over St Johnstone. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Light Blues manager Van Bronckhorst is not sure if the rescheduled programme will aid his team’s cause in their quest for a second successive Premiership title but warned his players will be fully prepared for another busy spell of fixtures.

The Dutchman said: “I think we were clear as a club that we had our arguments, our standing point in playing the last two games before the break.

“But the decision is made by the board and by the league so we respect the decision and we move forward.

“I don’t know if it’s an advantage (moving the break forward), we just need to prepare ourselves for the new schedule so in that way it’s not different.

“We go home early and spend time with our families so we will start earlier than planned but the games still have to be played so, for me, there’s no difference.

“It’s just preparing for the game is a little bit hectic. We start with an away game against Aberdeen and then we have a lot of weeks again, also with the Europa League coming in February so we will have a really long run with two games in a week.

“But it’s the way it is so we have to prepare ourselves for a busy schedule.”

The Light Blues will entertain a St Mirren side without a number of key players at Ibrox on Boxing Day after a Covid outbreak forced 12 players and various staff members into self-isolation.

Liver coverage of the cinch Premiership clash between St Mirren and Hearts. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Saints boss Jim Goodwin was forced to recall several of the club’s academy players from loan spells to help field a team but his youngsters impressed as they held title-chasing Celtic to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night.

Asked if it has been difficult to do analysis on St Mirren given the majority of their players have little first-team experience, Van Bronckhorst stated: “Of course, it’s difficult to predict their line-up, but the most important thing is to be prepared yourself, the best way you can.

“Of course, we see many changes in the team, i think the overall playing style will be the same as we saw also St Mirren last Wednesday.

“For m, it’s not a big issue, it’s just make sure we are prepared no matter which team we play against.

“Every club wants to be on top of their game, also with injuries and Covid cases, I think it’s for any team in the league.

“They had a good result against Celtic so they’re going to come here with great morale.

“We have to prepare ourselves, we want to go into the winter break with the same advantage and that’s what we need to put all our energy into this coming Sunday.”

Van Bronckhorst provided a timeframe for long-term injury absentee Filip Helander, who is back in light training.

The Swedish centre-back has not featured for the Light Blues since suffering a knee problem against St Johnstone in September.

Van Bronckhorst admitted: “Filip has been out on the pitch for a couple of weeks individually so hopefully he can join us after the break in training sessions.

“We have to build up his stamina and his training time with the team so hopefully, he will be able to join the team as normal. I don’t think straight after the winter break but hopefully soon.”