JAMES Tavernier today insisted Rangers can improve upon their rousing performance against Celtic on Saturday in the second half of the season - when their crocked players return to action.

The right back and his Gers team mates stunned Brendan Rodgers’s side at Parkhead at the weekend by holding them to an unexpected 0-0 draw.

And only two sensational Craig Gordon saves in the second half – from an acrobatic Tavernier effort and an Alfredo Morelos header – denied the visitors outright victory.

The performance and result came out of nowhere as Graeme Murty’s men had lost two of their previous games against St. Johnstone at home and Kilmarnock away.

They were also without experienced players Graham Dorrans, Ryan Jack, Kenny Miller and Lee Wallace due to injury while Bruno Alves also limped off at Celtic Park with a knock early on.

But Tavernier believes the display is down to the good work that Murty, who was confirmed as Rangers manager until the end of the season last month, has been doing on the training ground at Auchenhowie.

And the English defender anticipates that the Govan club can do even better in the coming months as a result of Alves, Dorrans, Jack, Miller and Wallace returning to the fray and new players arriving in the January transfer window.

“When the injured guys come back in it will create greater competition for places,” he said.

“I thought the boys who came in and played on Saturday did fantastically well. But the boys who are due to come back - the skip, Kenny Miller, Bruno is out now, Graham Dorrans, Ryan - will obviously pick up the levels when they do come back.

“I am sure the manager will be trying to strengthen the squad in the coming weeks. Freshening things up is also good as it keeps everyone on their toes and ensures that we all keep performing well.”

Tavernier added: “But the gaffer has taken us to Parkhead twice now and we have got draws both times. He is doing a good job for the boys.

“It is good working under him on the training field and that is reflected in the performance on Saturday. We put on a good display for the fans. That spoke volumes about what a good job he is doing.

“The game plan was the same as it always is. We knew we had to keep it tight at the back and I think we did that fantastically.

“But he also told us to try and play football when we got the ball, try to create spaces that we can play in, try to penetrate them. I thought we did that well at times as well. We were unlucky that we didn’t get the win. It augurs well for the future.”

Tavernier has warned his Rangers team mates, who will head to Florida for warm-weather training during the winter break, that they must not let their standards slip when they return to action later this month.

The Ibrox club have done well in games against the top teams in the Ladbrokes PremiershipAberdeen were beaten home and away while Hearts were thrashed through in the capital – this season.

However, when it comes to matches against the smaller clubs in the top flight Murty’s men have often been found wanting – they have lost to Hamilton, Dundee, St. Johnstone and Kilmarnock since he took over back in October.

“Doing the same thing as we did against Celtic against the likes of Dundee and Kilmarnock is now the challenge for us,” said Tavernier.

“I think it is probably down to our mental approach than anything. Every team that plays us work their socks off to get a result against us. We have obviously got to match that and go above that.

“They are the games that are important because we obviously don’t want to drop any more points because it will cost us in the league. We have to continue working hard.”

While Tavernier believes the return of experienced professionals like Alves, Jack, Miller and Wallace as well as the arrival of new faces this month will be positive for Rangers, he also has complete faith in the youngsters who have been given a chance under Murty.

Ross McCrorie, who signed a new deal on Friday, performed well in the holding midfielder role against Celtic while David Bates, who came on when Alves limped off in the 18th minute, was outstanding and picked up the Man of the Match champagne.

Bates, the 21-year-old defender, praised Tavernier, as well as his fellow centre half Danny Wilson, for helping him get through the Old Firm game at the weekend.

But the 26-year-old believes the young Scot deserves all he credit for how he repelled Moussa Dembele and then Leigh Griffiths and as a good chance of featuring more in the remaining weeks of the 2017/18 campaign.

“He did an absolutely fantastic job for us,” he said. “He did a great job in the Aberdeen game when he came in up at Pittodrie and he did it again on Saturday.

“I thought giving him Man of the Match was a questionable decision, but I will let him have it! Seriously, though, he has done a great job for the boys.

“But all of the lads who came on and the boys who started can feel proud of themselves for the performance. We have obviously shown the fans what we are about. We have just got to take this forward now and push on."