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New Cup format fails to win over Gers boss Warburton

By Gavin McCafferty

Mark Warburton watched Rangers triumph 2-0 in an entertaining Betfred Cup encounter at Motherwell on Saturday but remained sceptical about the new format.

His men recovered from a shaky start to move top of Group F thanks to second-half goals from James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn.

Rangers improved as the game went on but Warburton still felt the demands were too great on his players at this stage of their preparations for a Ladbrokes Premiership campaign.

When asked how the game compared to a pre-season friendly, Warburton said: "The difference is you can make eight or nine subs. I would rather have made more subs, got Clint Hill on, got Lee Hodson on, got various players on.

"If you have that pre-season friendly it gives you flexibility to make changes, because the boys aren't ready for 90 minutes."

Warburton did not include any of his eight summer signings in his starting line-up but Niko Kranjcar and Josh Windass made their debuts off the bench. And the likes of Joey Barton and Joe Dodoo - provided he completes his switch from Leicester - could feature against Annan tomorrow.

"The players will be sore and we will have to make changes for Tuesday night's game," he said. "But four games in nine days is too much, especially when you have paying spectators. You can't take them lightly when you have four or five thousand Rangers fans who have paid good money to come here.

"So we have got to make sure we treat them the right way. It's one of the big three tournaments. But why are we playing four games in nine days?

"Joey will be involved on Tuesday in some capacity, Lee Hodson (right) will start the game on Tuesday, Matt Gilks and Clint Hill will start. We will try and give the squad the right amount of pitch time. If we can do that, pre-season will be worthwhile."

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee revealed Louis Moult would be out until September after being told he needed groin surgery, but he is well covered up front with Scott McDonald and Jacob Blyth both playing on Saturday, while Craig Moore was in the stands.

McGhee has seen his midfield options reduced but he experimented with Joe Chalmers on the left of a central trio and he was pleased with the defender's display.

"He did all right," McGhee said. "We think Joe is a good player. We are not quite sure what position he plays. He's got a lot of ability and has even more ability than he showed. But he did a good job, a disciplined job.

"Joe has a future here if he buckles down and grabs the chance."

Meanwhile, St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright was happy with his team's 3-1 Betfred Cup win at Elgin but felt it should have been more convincing. Danny Swanson's solo goal rewarded Saints' first-half dominance, with many more chances squandered.

They paid the penalty for poor finishing as Jamie Duff levelled for the League Two side but strikes by Graham Cummins and Steven MacLean in the closing 18 minutes saw the Perth men win.

Northern Irishman Wright said: "For it to finish 3-1 was credit to Elgin for the way they defended. It was a comfortable day for us, but when it's only 1-0 at half-time anything can happen and Elgin had a moment of quality from a free-kick."

"I was pleased with them all but I thought (Chris) Millar, Swanson, (Liam) Craig and (Blair) Alston in midfield were excellent. I think how we retained the ball and passed the ball was really good throughout."

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