Walter Smith fears Rangers could be left counting the cost of a decent disciplinary record at the most crucial stage of the season.
A low crime count means the Ibrox club have managed to come through most of the campaign without losing too many players to suspension so far.
But points accrued throughout the season are now beginning to take their toll, with Madjid Bougherra banned for the first game after the Clydesdale Bank Premier League split and Kris Boyd and Pedro Mendes both walking a disciplinary tightrope.
And, with no fewer than nine first-team regulars unavailable for tomorrow’s clash with Motherwell, the Rangers boss cannot afford to lose anyone else.
“It’s always the same at this time of the season,” said Smith.
“If your team has a reasonable disciplinary record, when the points do start to mount up, it’s always at the end of the season.
“Sometimes, if you have a poorer disciplinary record, the suspensions kick in a lot earlier than ours are doing.
“We have that aspect with a number of players who are there or thereabouts on the suspension list.
“So we have to be careful.”
Rangers are still without Kenny Miller, Kirk Broadfoot, Kyle Lafferty, Lee McCulloch and long-term absentee Kevin Thomson.
DaMarcus Beasley and Sasa Papac have both been added to the casualty list after picking up injuries in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at St Mirren.
“It’s not an ideal situation but we have to get on with it,” said Smith.
“We have managed to cover so far. We have a big squad of players.
“Some have gone out on loan, who we could maybe do with back here at the moment.
“But we have a big enough squad to handle the situation that we’re in.”
Smith pointed out he is no stranger to operating with stretched resources following last season’s quest for a quadruple amid horrendous fixture congestion.
He said: “We had a very similar situation last year when we had a lot of games coming up in a short period of time and we were contending with quite a heavy injury list.
“We were a bit fortunate at the end of last season in the sense that we were getting players back, while others were going out injured.
“Just now, we have been sitting with this injury list of four or five players for a period and now we are adding to it.
“That makes it a little bit more awkward but we’ve had a good reaction from everyone who has come in to play and hopefully that will continue. I’m sure it will.”
Smith is, of course, also still without the services of deposed skipper Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who are currently serving a two-week club suspension.
And he is now keen to call time on discussing the events which saw the pair disciplined by Rangers and banned from representing Scotland.
“It’s happened and we have had more than enough column inches and more than enough words spoken about it,” said Smith.
“Now we just get on with our attempts to win the league.
“There has been a lot of publicity surrounding the club that we wouldn’t want at this stage of the season.
“But, like everything else, it dies down and I don’t think it’s a major factor now.
“Maybe in Sunday’s game there was a little bit of anxiety but certainly not the other night.
“Hopefully, it’s all cleared away with now and we can just look forward to the games in the manner that we should – as vitally important matches in our quest to peg back Celtic’s three-point lead.”