Gers to turn up heat on rivals
Steven Whittaker has urged his Rangers teammates to heap the pressure on Old Firm rivals Celtic by winning their next three crucial Scottish Premier League fixtures in January.
The Ibrox side, who are currently five points behind Celtic in the SPL, take on Falkirk, Aberdeen and Dundee United before the end of the month on league duty. In each game the Light Blues take to the pitch prior to Gordon Strachan's side and Whittaker knows victories for Rangers could give his team a psychological advantage and help them close the gap on the league leaders.
Falkirk are first up for Walter Smith's side on Saturday and Whittaker says it is imperative he and his teammates regain the home form which saw Rangers go undefeated at Ibrox for over a year until their Old Firm defeat in December. "Everybody was disappointed with the defeat to Celtic at the end of last year, especially as it ended our home record which had been very impressive," Whittaker said.
"We did well to bounce back against Caley Thistle as that is never an easy place to go and pick up three points. But now we have to try and get back to winning ways at Ibrox on Saturday.
"It is a long time since we have faced Falkirk, five months or something like that, but that's just the way the fixtures have fallen this season. We know what they are capable of and it's important we play well and focus on doing the business. It's another big month for us but we need to take it one game at a time."
On Sunday Old Firm rivals Celtic take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie. The Hoops have been boosted by the news that Japanese midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura has declared himself fit for the trip north, while Aiden McGeady is available again following his goalscoring return from suspension against Dundee last weekend.
The Dons are pushing for third spot in the SPL after a run of five wins in the last six games.
In Saturday's other fixtures bottom club Inverness Caledonian Thistle host Hamilton at the Tulloch Homes Stadium. The Inverness squad has been bolstered by the January signings of Richie Byrne, Filipe Morais, Thierry Gathuessi and Pavels Mahadjuks. A win for Caley Thistle would see them draw level on points with Hamilton.
St Mirren travel to Edinburgh to take on Hibernian aiming to make it six games in the league without defeat. Hibs will want to bounce back from last weekend's Scottish Cup exit to Hearts.
Kilmarnock take on Hearts at Rugby Park. A win for the home side could see them break into the top six while the Jambos will be pushing to reclaim a European spot.
On Sunday Dundee United host Motherwell at Tannadice. Craig Levein's side have been boosted by the news that Sean Dillon has joined Jon Daly and captain Lee Wilkie in committing himself to a new contract with the Arabs.