MARK Warburton has urged the Scottish football authorities to see sense when it comes to the winter break - because the current plans give his players no chance of a decent one in the summer. Should Rangers reach the Scottish Cup final and finish second or third in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, their first Europa League qualifier is scheduled for June 28, just five weeks from the showcase of the domestic season on May 21.

While that is hardly ideal, most damaging of all is the fact that Scotland face England at Hampden on Saturday June 11, which could mean the likes of Lee Wallace and Barrie McKay being plunged into crucial European ties after just days of training. Consequently Warburton feels the current format jeopardises our clubs' chances of European progress, something owner Dave King said this week was crucial to the club's development plan. The Englishman feels that an earlier winter break, such as one from December 18 to January 8 which operates in La Liga in Spain, would be more appropriate, but his ideal solution is playing through the window and getting the cup final played by the start of May to allow players to get more rest.

"The cup final is on May 28, the first Europa League game is on June 28 and in between is a small fixture between Scotland and England on June 11," said Warburton. "What do you do? I’m looking at our players - Lee, Barrie and the likes and what break do they have? Does that give Scottish clubs the best chance to progress? I'm not sure it does.

"Even if we don’t make the cup final we still finish a week earlier, May 21, and it’s only five weeks," he added. "But if you are involved in the international fixture, what break do you get? The European fixture is obviously important for Scotland and the clubs individually of course. Could we not play through the winter break and finish up at the end of April, play the cup final on May 7 and give the boys more of a break? For the quality of the product, the players deserve one. To give them three weeks, they need that minimum ‘golden window’."

"Spain have it off from December 18-January 8, don’t they? They’re off for Christmas. They give the players and staff Christmas with their families, which makes perfect sense. But because the British crowds have always been strong over the festive period we’re now playing December 16, 24, 28 and 31? Then we have a break."

The club's most recent accounts, which showed that the club lost £3.3m in winning the Ladbrokes Championship, and turned over less than half of Celtic's annual revenue, only underline the importance of continental qualification. "It [European football] is very important," insisted Warburton. "It generates income for the club. Getting season tickets sold and getting the punters enjoying coming to Ibrox is also important. While there are other things above my pay grade that will hopefully be resolved in terms of shirts and everything else. These are areas that will help the club move forward that aren't currently being maximised."

Warburton said recently that it has taken him 18 months, and the 5-1 Old Firm defeat at Celtic Park, to become truly aware of some of the intricacies of life as Rangers manager, and there was a further crash course for him this week when he met Ally McCoist face-to-face for the first time as he attended the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. Walter Smith, who has been popping into the manager's office on some matchdays, gave an extensive Q and A on the night and Warburton said it was good to meet another of his predecessors. "It was good to say hello to Ally and have a chat to him," said Warburton. "Hopefully I will get a chance to invite him to dinner or have a glass or wine or two in the near future."

Danny Wilson is available if required for the trip to the Highlands on Sunday, but the match against Ross County will come too early for Jordan Rossiter, the midfielder who will return to full training this week. In the form of County, Dundee and Partick, the Ibrox side ostensibly have a run of winnable fixtures but Warburton expects a difficult encounter on his maiden visit to Dingwall.

"They didn't deserve some of the results they have had in the last two or three games," said the Rangers manager. "The results flattered the opposition and they are a good team. Boyce is back up front and they have good pace and width. If you let them play they will play. So this is not an easy test. We are well aware of what we face. But we are in good form and we are looking forward to it."