PHILIPPE Clement has warned Rangers will need to increase the size of their squad next season if they are to successfully negotiate all of their domestic and European fixtures after the SPFL announced they were scrapping the winter break.

The Champions League and Europa League will both move to a Swiss model system in the 2024/25 campaign and each club in the group stages will play a total of eight matches instead of six between September 25 and January 30.

Clement, who took his players away to La Manga in Spain for a warm weather training break this month when the cinch Premiership stopped for three weeks, can understand why there will be no shutdown next term.

However, he is concerned about the demands which are placed on footballers by their club and country in the modern game and predicted he will need to have more players at his disposal to cope with a punishing fixture list.

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“The winter break is important, I’m convinced about that,” he said. “There have been a lot of signals in the past two years from several top players that it’s becoming too much.

“You’ve seen also quite some injuries with the top players and the top teams, who are playing a lot of games. The more games we have, the bigger squads we need because you have to make rotations. 

“You need moments of physical rest and mental rest. You cannot play every three days during 11 months and perform in a top way as one player. We need to take that into account if there are more games next season, looking at the numbers in the squad.”

The Herald: Rangers manager Philippe ClementClement, though, is confident he currently has a strong enough squad to cope with all of the Premiership, Scottish Cup and Europa League games which Rangers will have to play in what promises to be another intense spell.

“All my players love to play,” he said. “I think now, after the period that they had, the players are looking forward to it. Maybe they like less of my training and prefer to play games, I don’t know!

“But I really feel it that way. They are all pushing and the more games we have the more chances they have to play. There will be a rotation because it’s impossible to play all those games with the same 11 players. Like we did in December, everybody will be involved and stay involved.

“Therefore in a way, if you ask the dressing room now, I think they prefer this. So they will be very happy about next season because there will be even more games with no winter break.”

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Asked if it had been difficult to prepare for the Premiership encounter with Hibernian at Easter Road tonight because of the adverse weather conditions, Clement said: “Yes, but I come from Belgium. It’s nothing new, we have this in Belgium also.

“And I am not here to lie in the sun or on the beach. Or to get a tan. It doesn’t matter to me what the weather conditions are. It was the same in Dumbarton, it’s about doing the job and winning those games.”

The Herald: Rangers players congratulate John Lundstram, second right, on opening the scoring in the ScottishClement confessed that he was looking to make more top class additions to the Rangers squad in the final days of the transfer window and not just increase the options available to him.

“Everyone is working really hard to get more really good quality signings,” he said. “The club showed that already by bringing Fabio in because he could have gone to teams with a bigger budget than Rangers 

“We don’t want to bring only players who make the squad bigger. It can be maybe in one position to have more security. In general what we want is to strengthen the squad. 

“For the players who come in, it’s also a challenge because the squad is getting better and better. I see every month this team, all these players, becoming better. So players coming in also have a tough challenge to compete and be better than the guys in the building. 

‘It doesn’t mean if someone comes in they are guaranteed to play. It doesn’t work that way. The level of the team is rising so the challenge is also becoming bigger and bigger to get people in.”