Rangers manager Ally McCoist refused to blame injuries and the international break for his side's lacklustre performance in their goalless draw with St Johnstone on Saturday. Steve Lomas took charge of the Saints for the first time and his well-organised side snuffed out any hints of danger from the home side, who looked lethargic and lacked a cutting edge.
Seven of McCoist's starting 11 only returned from international duty on Thursday with several having played two games in four days. The Gers also had several players missing through injury including Sasa Papac, Kyle Bartley and Lee Wallace who all started the Ibrox club's previous league fixture.
It is the second time Rangers have dropped points immediately after an international break following a 1-1 draw with St Mirren in October. But McCoist refused to blame player fatigue as a factor in his side's failure to find a way past St Johnstone. "We always seem to have these conversations after international breaks but I'm probably getting a little bit sick of that as I don't look on that as a reason or excuse at all," McCoist said.
"But again it is another disappointing result after an international break. We have got a few injuries but everyone throughout the season will get a few injuries, of that there is no doubt. I wouldn't say it was that much of a concern. The biggest concern for me and the biggest disappointment was the overall team performance."
The result, coupled with rivals Celtic's 2-0 win away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, sees Rangers' lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League cut to ten points. But McCoist, whose side are still unbeaten this season after 15 games, refused to get too downbeat about the draw.
"We are doing alright. It's a disappointing result but that's all it is," the Rangers manager said. "We did not play nearly well enough. I'm not in anyway shape or form going to start worrying about momentum. We've had some great results beating Hearts and Aberdeen away and Dundee United at home. We've had some really good performances. Today was a poor performance and not a good result and as I say we didn't do enough to win the game but you are going to get games like that through out a season."
Celtic cut the gap at the top as an Anthony Stokes second-half double helped the Hoops to a 2-0 away win to bottom side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who had Greg Tansey sent off in the first-half. The Hoops could reduce the gap to just four points before Rangers play again if they can dispatch Dunfermline on Wednesday and St Mirren on Saturday.
But Rangers captain Steven Davis said his side were only concentrating on their own results and weren't concerned about their rivals. "I think there is going to be plenty of toing and froing between now and the end of the season but as players we are not concentrating on that," the Northern Irish international said.
"I think we just want to keep the consistency going and keep winning games. We are not too concerned really about what Celtic are or aren't doing at this point in time as there is still so much football still to be played. We are not even thinking in terms of our lead, it's just about keep winning our own games and that's what we've always tried to do since I came to the club."