The literal gap between Celtic and Rangers is clear for all to see, spelled out as it is in black and white at the top of the Premiership standings.

It is six points, and that is what also separates Philippe Clement’s debut season in Scotland from the more than solid job he will be credited for and a miraculous one, with the Ibrox fans dreaming of a Treble just a few short weeks ago.

According to the Rangers manager though, what is also clear to the naked eye when watching the Glasgow teams face off against one another is that there really is no gap between them at all.

In rebuttal, Celtic supporters will point to the fact that in four meetings between the sides this season, Celtic have won three and drawn one. But for Clement, it has been fine details in those matches that have made the difference, rather than any yawning chasm in ability level.

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What’s more, had Rangers not been suffering from an extensive injury list going into their last two Old Firm matches, he feels they may well have come out of them with more points to show for their efforts.

“For me, there is no gap,” Clement said.

“If we are both with our full squads, there is no gap.

“A few weeks ago everyone said there was no gap. In points, there was also no gap because we niggled back seven points and we went longer in Europe.

“So, when there’s full squads, there is no gap. But when you are missing nine players, it’s a big thing.

“I heard a lot when Celtic were missing two players, and it made a big difference. And it was a big difference when they came back. So, of course missing nine makes a big difference.”

When asked if he was still trying to figure out a plan to beat Celtic, Clement added: “No. Because we were close. It’s about taking the decisive actions.

“Even on Saturday when we played 50 minutes with 10, the result was just 2-1. This was a game we could have four, five, 6-1 had we given up or they didn’t show determination any more.

“But you need to take the moments at 0-0 when we had two really good moments to score. Those moments you need to take.

“That’s the step we need to take. But in those offensive positions we missed three or four players who are starting XI players. That’s a lot.”

Clement did have to concede though that his players have also conspired against themselves at times in the fixture this season, falling behind by a two-goal margin in the last three matches against Celtic, and having a man ordered off on both of their last two visits to Celtic Park.

“Three different scenarios also, but individual mistakes,” he said.

“It’s not that our structure was not there, but in the one against one duels, for sure, in these times we were not good enough.”

Is there a mental gap between the teams then, with Celtic possessing players who are well worn at going over course and distance, and who don’t make such missteps?

“No, I don’t think so,” he said.

“I’m very sure if we have a full squad then we can beat them.”

Perhaps new personnel wouldn’t hurt, though, and Clement has long since reached the conclusion that something of a rebuild of the Rangers squad is required if they are to take that next step and back up his assertions about their ability to compete with Celtic.

A great many among the Rangers support have certainly been convinced of that for some time, and Clement has sympathy with their frustrations after watching their side get so close to league glory once again only to falter at the last.

“I understand that,” he said.

But he knows there is only one path to take if Rangers are to shift perceptions of them as a team of title ‘bottlers’, and he and his staff are ready to do the necessary.

“There is only one way, that is working extremely hard to make things better,” he said.

“I can tell the fans that people are doing that here, and that we are working really hard to make things better and to change the situation.

“As I said, having that many players out in big parts of the season, and also in the years before, we are going to change that. That is going to also be a major part in recruitment in that way.

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“I know fans, they want to see things on the field. They see already a team that keeps on digging in, so that was also one of the concerns in the beginning of the season, that they didn’t fight for the colours, didn’t fight for the team.

“That was not the case in the last couple of months. We had that one game at Ross County, but in all the rest they have been working hard.

“But we need to still show more quality to make the next step, and everybody is working hard on that.”