Kemar Roofe says Rangers have been stung into action as he praised the response of Steven Gerrard’s team to their first domestic defeat in nine months.
The Ibrox side saw a 27-game unbeaten run brought to a shuddering halt by St Mirren last week as the Buddies dumped them out of the Betfred Cup.
There were plenty of doubters speculating on whether that shock defeat to Saints would spark a repeat of the mid-season collapses which denied Gerrard a proper tilt at the title in his first two seasons in charge.
But Gers are firmly back on track after that Paisley upset following back-to-back wins over Motherwell and St Johnstone.
Roofe scored a double as the Light Blues fought back to beat the stubborn Steelmen on Saturday and got another tap-in when Perth keeper Zander Clarke spilled Ianis Hagi’s strike at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night.
Now Roofe admits he and his team-mates are using the frustration of that St Mirren setback to fuel their title charge having kept a firm grip on their 16-point lead at the top after hitting the Premiership midway point.
He told RangersTV: “We take it game by game and we needed the three points here. It all stems from the St Mirren defeat – it still hurts us. That has given us an extra boost to keep pushing.
“(Wednesday) was a massive three points away from home. We knew it was going to be a tough, physical game and I think we matched it and then let our quality show as well.”
Roofe has mainly operated off the right flank since joining Gers in the summer but he was given the chance to spearhead the Rangers attack in Perth as Alfredo Morelos was left to start on the bench following his return from suspension.
He now has 11 goals this season and for many among the Light Blues legions, Roofe has now overtaken the Colombian to become the main man at Ibrox.
“I played as a nine and the main job as a nine is to be within the width of the goalposts and be ready,” he said. “As soon as someone shoots, be ready for the seconds.
“You never know, the keeper is going to drop some now and then and you need to be there. Thankfully I was.
“I enjoy it playing there. Positions are just on paper – when the game plays out, you need to be able to adapt. You need to see how the game goes and go with the flow. That’s part of my game.”
Hagi wrapped up the 3-0 win over Callum Davidson’s team as he fired through the hapless Clark’s ankles and Roofe praised the impact of the Romanian as he shone on his first league start in two months.
“Ianis has been waiting a long time for a start again,” he said. “In training, he has been showing it and when he comes on in games. (Against St Johnstone), he really did show it.
“He got an assist and a goal and it was a great performance.”
Rangers face another major test on Boxing Day as Hibernian visit Ibrox but Roofe insists there will be no festive slacking from the league leaders.
He said: “I just prepare properly, as if it’s not Christmas, as if it’s just a normal day. We go again on Boxing Day, simple as that, we don’t do too much thinking about it.”