• Keeping discipline as Hibs are reduced to nine men
  • Updates on Sterling, McCausland and Jack
  • Improving the overall fitness of the squad

Philippe Clement has spoken to the media after the Scottish Cup win over Hibs. Here is what he had to say.

What are your thoughts on the game?

You knew from before that it was a hard place to come to. After a massive European night that cost a lot of energy against a team as good as Benfica, with the travelling and everything, and they had all week to prepare this game physically, mentally, tactically and they are in really good form the last couple of weeks. We knew it was a tough game and we played a really mature game. You have most of the chances, most of the possession so you deserve to win. My team stayed cool also in some heated moments, which was also important to do.

Is there a concern about a couple of injuries?

Changes or not, what I said before the game, I knew I was going to make a lot of changes during the game. I am not happy, of course, that Dujon and Ross had to come off. It is not a good thing. We are going to see in the next couple of days if they are going to be available for Thursday or not. We keep on walking in that road and we need to find solutions. The good thing is that all the team is involved in that way, we are working hard every time. I think every player in the squad has been important in that way and that has been our strength. We will continue like that on Thursday also.

How important was it to keep your discipline?

It is really important and it is what I tell them every week. I want to stay with 11, I don’t want reckless tackles, I want them to stay on their feet. It is important to play and finish games with 11.

Do you believe that both were red cards?

I didn’t see them back. If you put a hand or an arm in the face you can get a yellow, that everybody knows. The tackle was a few yards away from me. It is a reckless tackle with the studs in front and it doesn’t matter then if you break a leg or not. It is just reckless. I think it is important to get that kind of tackle out of the game because we have seen the last couple of weeks sometimes when we didn’t get the red card. I was not happy about that also that moment. I think it is not good for Scottish football, English football, Belgian football, German football, tackles like that. Players need to know if you tackle like that you get a red card. It is for nobody good because it is a danger to injure someone if you go in like that.

Have you noticed that since coming to Scottish football?

No I have seen them before also but then they were red cards everywhere, in France, in Belgium, in Europe, and here some people pass by without red cards. I think it is good for the game that all the players understand that is not the way you tackle because you endanger your opponent and nobody wants to get tackles like that. The same like the story of the elbows in the past in the times that I was playing, you didn’t get red cards for that. It happened also much more. Now this is almost out of the game because everybody knows if I do it I risk a red card. I think it benefits every player, every manager and every club that these things go out of football.

How impressed are you by the boys’ ability to churn out the games week after week?

It is clear for everyone if you look now and four months ago there is a huge change. You see it also in all the stats of the team. We are not there where I want them to be but for that I need preparation – what they missed, clearly, because still people are falling out and coming out and others falling out and coming back so there are only a few players really ready for what I want, and that is a competitive team who are there every three days with that intensity. We have a few like Connor, John, Lunny, Tav and there are a few growing in that way. But I want the total squad to be like that and for that you need more training and I cannot do that at the moment because we have so many games.  The thing is the solidarity – everyone working hard for the team in whatever position and that is why we get all these results. 

Can you give any detail on Ryan Jack’s injury?

I cannot say how long yet but he took a knock against Benfica and has a muscle problem now. I cannot say anything about how long. Of course I wanted him back to give him minutes today but that was not the case so we will see. Thursday and the weeks after I do not know. 

Could Dujon and Ross be back for Thursday?

I am not a doctor. It is a pity sometimes this season. I would like to be a doctor sometimes but we have a really good one who is a really clear in his assessment all the time. But I cannot say now and he cannot say now. We will examine them in the next two days to see what is going on. It is dangerous for me to say it is serious or it is not serious if it is not the truth. I always want to say the truth. 

How pleased are you with Cole McKinnon?

I am very positive about Cole otherwise you do not given him minutes against Benfica, otherwise you do not come in today also. He is still a young lad but he has shown really good mentality and workrate in training and he has been growing on the ball month by month and that is positive. It is important to try and win all the games or try to, that’s my ambition. But it is also important for me to develop young players and give them chances and let them grow. It is important for Scottish football also to give chances to young Scottish players and let them grow. We need to look into that for our European squad because we missed several players in this squad because we did not have enough Scottish players on the list or we need to buy them – but we maybe need our money for other things. Or we need to build them ourselves over the next couple of years and that is one of my objectives, to get players out of the academy who can grow to become Rangers first XI players.