Raith, Raith go away; come again another day

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OK, it's a rather poor pun but with various weather warnings in force for the weekend and the structural problems resulting in the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, it appears someone is trying to their best to get tomorrow's match in Kirkcaldy postponed. And, after two 4-0 home wins on the trot for Mark Warburton's men, our manager won't been keen for that momentum to be broken by traffic problems and/or bad weather. We'll just have to blame Mother Nature for the issues facing the game!

Of course, it's been quite a stormy week for the Rangers boss personally. Although he seemed to be clear enough after the Dumbarton win that he had no interest in any other job, some in the media - as well as their 'sources' - persevered with their suggestions that Fulham were indeed interested and that the Rangers board were considering offering Warburton a new contract and increased transfer budget. Media mischief-making or not, the manager insisted that wasn't the case and couldn't have been firmer when making a further denial later in the week. Given the courtesy he's offered the Scottish media since his arrival - especially those at BBC Scotland with whom the club have had issues with - it's a shame that fragile relationship has been tested so quickly. However, it is fair to say this won't be the last job he'll be linked with and there will be tougher engagements ahead.

Primarily the Rangers boss will be judged on results though and it's because of his impressive start that job rumours are so prevalent. In that sense, in many ways such stuff is agreeable and while fans don't want to see managers and players move on, if we're playing well then it will happen. As such, it's much more preferable to have that kind of coverage than the negative stuff we witnessed last season in particular. This means promotion by way of the Championship title is the only acceptable outcome this campaign and that will only happen if we take full points from away games like tomorrow - even if the other contenders have laboured to wins at Stark's Park.

Fortunately for Rangers, we had no such problems in dispatching Raith earlier this season with a 5-0 home victory eight weeks ago at Ibrox. However, tomorrow's match is likely to be different for a variety of reasons. Not only will the weather inevitably play its part, a tighter pitch and vocal home support make for very different surroundings. As such it will be a surprise if Rangers deploy the two wingers they did in the corresponding September fixture. Consequently, I'd expect another start for Kenny Miller in favour of Nathan Oduwa. The experienced forward player showed up well as a sub on Tuesday night so will be eager to repeat his assists from that game and his much-needed goal against St Mirren last weekend. McKay and Waghorn should complete our front three.

Behind them we may expect one or two further changes to Tuesday's team as the manager has conceded he's attempting to rotate his side. It will be a coin-toss to see who starts between Kiernan, Ball and Wilson while Gedion Zelalem, Dean Shiels and Jordan Thompson will be vying for a midfield role alongside Andy Halliday and Jason Holt - both of whom have been in good form of late. Whatever the team, all will be looking to avoid the sloppy play we seen in Livingston a fortnight ago. Former Ranger, Jon Daly will certainly give us food for though aerially at the back with Mark Stewart also a goalscoring threat just off the Irishman. There's no doubt with Hibs and Falkirk both continuing to do well and games upcoming against both, we can ill-afford the concession of more points.

That's the kind of media attention the manager will truly be looking to avoid and it's up to him to ensure he and his players are focussed completely on the tough winter schedule ahead of us. Let's hope the game goes ahead tomorrow so Warburton can continue to demonstrate why he's such hot property.

Possible team:


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