Rangers manager Mark Warburton thinks that his side are “a better team than they were at the start of the season” ahead of the crucial clash with Old Firm rivals Celtic on New Year’s Eve.

The Englishman’s side were beaten 5-1 at Parkhead when the pair met in the Scottish Premiership in September, before the Bhoys triumphed again 1-0 in the Scottish League Cup semi-final the following month.

However, Warburton believes that the second-placed Gers have come a long way since then and will cause Celtic problems when the teams meet at Ibrox.

“That was game five of the season – we’ve moved on from there,” the 54-year-old told his pre-match press conference, as reported in The Guardian.

“We’ve gelled as a squad. We are where we are in the league but we’re delivering highly competitive performances.”

This season marks Rangers’ first back in the top-flight since financial difficulties resulted in the club’s demotion to the Third Division (now League Two), Scottish football’s bottom rung, at the end of the 2011-12 campaign.

Having made their way back through the leagues the future is now looking much brighter in South-West Glasgow, but the gap between Scotland’s two most famous sides has rarely been greater.

With Celtic 16 points clear at the top following their 2-0 win over Ross County on Wednesday, Rangers look to be competing with Aberdeen and Hearts for second spot, which would at least secure a return to European football next season.

Nevertheless, the Old Firm is a rivalry like no other and there will be plenty on the line for both the blue and green halves of Glasgow in what is sure to be a fittingly dramatic encounter to end 2016.

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