GRAEME MURTY is hoping yesterday’s 0-0 draw with Celtic will fuel the fire of his Rangers players to spur them on to closing the gap on their Glasgow rivals.

It wasn’t pretty but effective from Murty’s men at Celtic Park as they became only the second team to stop Brendan Rodgers’ side scoring domestically.

At the other end there were chances as well, but Murty has signalled the level of performance from his team at Celtic Park – and in the games against Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian – must be the benchmark from now on.

“You have to accept what the players give you and today they game me a top notch level of concentration, focus and intensity,” said the Rangers manager. “We have to use that as fuel to move us forward from here.

“We can’t take a backward step because, I’ve told them, when I walked out of this place last time it was with a sense of a job well done.

“I sit here with a real sense of a job and a journey that we’re just starting out on.

“We have to use that to move forward and if we do, this game will have served a good purpose beyond just getting a point.

“We have shown at Pittodrie, Murrayfield and Easter Road that we can step up to a level that can cause anyone problems. Our job and task collectively is to ensure that is our minimum standard/. If we do that, then we are on a really good path to improving our lot and making sure that we do close the gap.

“Look at their bench and the fact they can buy a £4.5 million sub in Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths too. They have really deep pockets, lots of resource and we have to show that we can close the gap by being great at what we do. I thought we did that today.’

Murty was forced to put faith in youth yesterday as Ross McCrorie was thrown in to midfield, while David Bates replaced Bruno Alves who hobbled off midway through the first half.

“I said earlier that the players need to feel trusted and feel belief from the manager,” said Murty, who is believed to be set to name Jimmy Nicholl as his No.2. “I trust them all. I believe in them all. I have sat here in worse surroundings after worse results and said the same.

“the players know I trust them. So when you have to throw someone like David bates on you know he is not going to let you down. He will give you everything he has.

“Ross the same. I thought that to man from back to front that is what they gave us.

“That is the standard. And if we can continue to show that spirit who knows where we can go.”

When asked about Alves, he said: “He is on crutches at the moment, wearing a boot.

“It is far too soon to assess but he is in a lot of discomfort.”

Meanwhile, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers accepted that the game shone a light on just how jaded the Parkhead side are.

Rodgers will take his side to Dubai this coming Saturday, with the combination of vitamin D and the chance to recuperate perhaps providing the alchemy necessary to coax out the performance levels that marked the opening half of this season.

Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele’s lethargic performances against Rangers were Celtic in microcosm. The duo were integral last term to the pressing, energetic, quick football the Parkhead side blew teams away with but neither they as individuals or Celtic as a collective have sustained that.

“It is obvious in terms of the number of games we have played and everything that goes into it,” said Rodgers. “Up here, you virtually have back to back seasons so there is no real rest. “Credit to the players though because I have seen it many times over the years where you can maybe lose that one 1-0.

“If you do not take your chances and then your opponent gets a goal and all of a sudden you are on a disappointment. But the resilience of the players and the resolve they showed, they have done really well. If you can’t score then you must make sure you don’t lose it.

“That is our fourth clean sheet in a row now, after our game when we conceded four. First half we were the better team without too many moments of quality. Second we huffed and puffed a wee bit.

“The players who've been with us need the recovery and rest. They’ll be worked on as well.

“And there will be players going out as well who want to move on and get games, so it’ll be a revolving door over the course of the months, but certainly we want to strengthen.”

And Rodgers enthused, too, about the performance of Craig Gordon who denied Rangers twice in the second period with two fine stops from James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos.

“One of the fullbacks when he swivels on it, that was a really good save and then you see his reactions with Morelos, who probably should score, but Craig made a brilliant save with his left leg and it went out for a corner,” said Rodgers. “He didn’t have too much to do but what he has he done really well.”