THE mood music around the Rangers first-team squad right now is so buoyant, and expectations growing so rapidly in the Ibrox stands, that when the final whistle sounded on Wednesday night it rang out in a somewhat melancholy tone.

Philippe Clement’s team may have gone level on points with Celtic at the top of the Premiership table after beating Ross County 3-1, but despite peppering 43 shots at County goalkeeper George Wickens, only a Cyriel Dessers double and late John Souttar header breached the inspired on-loan Fulham youngster’s away goal.

The Herald: John Souttar celebrates his goal against CountyJohn Souttar celebrates his goal against County (Image: PA)READ MORE: Rangers boss Clement reacts to SFA report on incorrect VAR calls

The net gain of two goals meant that the Govan side trail Brendan Rodgers’ team by virtue of the number of goals scored having both played 25 matches.

Victory for Rangers made it six wins in a row in the league since the defeat to Celtic in Parkhead before the turn of the year. Clement, however, believes that his side will continue to grow as they battle it out on three fronts having already collected the Viaplay Cup in time for Christmas.

And with new signings arriving in January, the Belgian believes they can still move up a few gears.

“There is still a lot to come from this team. There is still much to improve and to be better,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s trip to take on Craig Levein’s St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

“We have three new players. Fabio [Silva] is in the building a little bit longer, but Oscar [Cortes] and Dio [Mohamed Diomande] are new.

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“They still need to get used to everything – how we play, how their team-mates move and run. They have already done a lot of good things, but there is still a lot to improve and work on.

“We also have a lot of players who have come out of a long-term injury.

“I don’t have the feeling that there is one player in this squad who is already at his maximum level and that he cannot become any better. There is progress and improvement to make with everyone.”

One of those players currently on the treatment table is Rabbi Matondo, the Welsh winger failing to materialise after the break in the County match in midweek. But Clement is hopeful he will be back in his ranks before long, and the Belgian revealed that some tinkering with a medical face mask Leon Balogun is sporting after suffering a facial injury against Livingston at the start of the month will see him available for the trip to Perth.

“With Rabbi, that’s why I changed him at half-time against Ross County. He has a small muscle injury,” Clement said. “He had a scan. It’s clear there is a small thing, but I think he will be back in the short-term.

The Herald: Rabbi Matondo picked up a knock in the first half against Ross CountyRabbi Matondo picked up a knock in the first half against Ross County (Image: PA)READ MORE: Rangers boss Clement reacts to SFA report on incorrect VAR calls

“In terms of the other players, Leon Balogun comes back in. We made an adjustment with his mask. It’s now for me to decide if he will be selected.

“Of course [we are expecting a tough match against St Johnstone]. It is always special with the away games.

“It is a different type of surface than at Ibrox. Teams are super motivated to play against Rangers.

“The longer you have a series of wins like this, the more the opponents are hungry to break it.”

Asked if the quality of playing surfaces in the Scottish game was a concern, the former AS Monaco and Genk manager said: “That there is still some work to do.

“You see all the top leagues and they are a really high standard now of surfaces.

“Football is a product and we are in the entertainment sector. So the better the product is, the more it’s worth.

“Where are the best pitches? In the best competitions and I think the Premier League is a big example.

“The standards from the federations are really high towards the pitches. It’s also the better football you give, the more money you will get from television because people like to watch that more than when the ball bounces three times every pass you make.

“Then you don’t have a good product. It’s an important thing to raise the standards in that way.

“I think there are a few pitches in Scotland during the winter that don’t have the quality the teams want.

"For example, at St Mirren I heard from the people themselves that they were not happy about that because they want to play better football on the pitch - but it was not possible.

“So, it’s something to invest in for sure and it will make the product of football and Scottish football better.

With the state of playing surfaces an issue, then, it is perhaps understandable that Rangers looked to attempt a more direct route to goal as a tactic on Wednesday night in the comfort of home surroundings against one of the league’s lesser lights in County.

With no goals coming from the 24 shots from 18 yards out or more, however, Clement may need to try another way to emboss Rangers’ goal differential as the title race heats up. So, was an emphasis on burgeoning the goals for column on the table a priority?

“Not until the last game [will I become concerned] about goal difference and things like that,” he said. “I ask my players every game to score as many goals as possible. There is no difference there.

“It’s not like we score three goals and I say, ‘Guys, that’s enough.’ No I’ve pushed them from the first day and you saw that because that game we scored four against Hibs.

“I want them to be ambitious from the first second until the last to take the maximum from every game. So there is no difference in approach now than it was four months ago because I always want to take the most out of every game."