Philippe Clement has a puzzle to solve. The number of missing pieces is making his job difficult, though, and there is a sense that the picture may never be complete at Ibrox.

It says it all about the state and status of the Rangers squad right now that Clement spent the majority of his press conference on Tuesday afternoon addressing the injury situation that he inherited and continues to deal with. Updates were given on a handful of individuals but the collective is always the most important and that is where Clement would like to focus the vast percentage of his time and effort.

Nicolas Raskin has been added to the list of walking wounded after sustaining an ankle injury in the win over Hearts on Sunday. A muscle problem will also rule John Souttar out of the trip to face Dundee. Danilo is fit to start but, like Todd Cantwell was at the weekend, does not have enough in the tank to get through 90 minutes. Tom Lawrence has returned to full training but isn’t fit enough to feature, while the process to get to the bottom of Kemar Roofe’s latest setback is ongoing and no timescales have been set for his potential return.

Recent interviews with Clement have felt like boxes being ticked as the list of names has been worked through. Kieran Dowell and Jose Cifuentes are back involved. Rabbi Matondo is a longer-term absentee and wasn’t mentioned this time around, and neither was Borna Barisic after the injury he sustained against Hibernian.

The opening questions related to Raskin and Lawrence and the answers were short and sharp. When the subject of Danilo was raised, Clement chose his moment to be more expansive. From that point, the tone of the interview was set.

“It is a good question,” Clement said when asked if Danilo was fit to start at Dens Park. “We will see tomorrow. He is ready to play. We will see what is important in this game and if it is necessary that he starts or that he comes in. It depends on the opponent also, what profiles you need, the physical state of the players. He is not ready for 90 minutes, that is logical.

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“That is the difficult thing for the moment. It is quite a puzzle, it is the biggest puzzle that I ever saw, to be honest, with all the injuries and players falling out. I need to say one thing more, John Souttar will also not be available for the game with a muscle problem. Not a big one but not available for the game.

“Until now, we started with a lot of players who are not available, some players falling out also in the last couple of weeks. It will be really important in every game to look at that and the minutes of every player to try and build their physical condition, their robustness in the next couple of weeks, couple of months, to have a bigger squad available.”

When asked if he could put his finger on why there were so many injuries at present, Clement replied ‘yes, but not for you guys’ as he issued a reminder that he will say what he wants when he wants to say it. An abrupt ‘of course’ was the response when he was offered the chance to explain what he was doing behind the scenes to address the problem.

Clement is now the one that is having to field the queries and provide the answers but this situation is not of his own making. Both of the Belgian’s predecessors – Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Michael Beale – suffered as a result of crippling absentee lists and Clement cannot allow history to repeat itself. If he has anything to do with it, there will be no third wave of players falling by the wayside on a weekly basis.

One response and three words were particularly enlightening. ‘Next question please’ was the firm reply when Clement was asked if he had been surprised by the condition of some of his players following his appointment as manager. Supporters can read into that however they wish.

Clement was more expansive on the topic of how to cure the ills that are plaguing Rangers right now. He has vowed to ensure his squad are the best physical side in the Premiership as he builds the ‘four pillars’ that are behind his Ibrox blueprint. It will take time for the other three – tactically, technically and mentally – to come to fruition and the gains in terms of fitness and robustness cannot be found overnight.

“This is the work that is never short term,” Clement said. “It is impossible. Or you need to use things that are not allowed, and we are not planning to do that. Even then it doesn’t help because it is short term. That is a long-term project, creating physical ability, creating players ready for 90 minutes every three days during months.

“That is not something you can create by two weeks training, nobody can do that. Same with robustness, same with building up muscles and making them stronger in general. It is work of longer term. Everybody in the club knows it is a really important part for the future of Rangers.”

As the line of questioning continued on the theme, Clement stated that he was ‘more talking like a doctor in this press conference than a manager. I prefer to talk about football also.’ By that stage, he had dismissed the notion that the injury issues would influence his thinking in terms of the January transfer window and stressed the importance of the problem being solved if he is to work with a squad that is capable of competing on all fronts this term.

He recognises that the situation could have unforeseen benefits. With every door that is closed, another opens. He doesn’t doubt the motivation of the injured individuals within his group but there is a time and place for them to be at the forefront of his mind and the 90 minutes against Dundee must take precedence after Rangers rekindled their Premiership ambitions on Sunday.

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The deficit in the title race stands at just five points now. The feelgood factor from the win against Hearts must be harnessed and the momentum must be rolled over once again.

“Not only mentality, it is a lot of things, it is technically, tactically also to build,” Clement said as he raised and lowered his hands to narrate his point about how Rangers’ fortunes could fluctuate this season. “It is a pity that you lose players along the way because then you have to restart with others who step in who do it for the first time, for example.

"It is important but it is not game by game that the exam is there, it is in a few weeks, a few months how you see the team evolve. I know there will be bumps in the road, it will not be a story that only goes like that. It is never that way. We need to be ready also in the moment where we do this and then go up again. That is important.”

Clement has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of some of those that he has inherited at Ibrox. The league is as expected, however, and the former Monaco manager pointed to the strength, organisation and physicality of the top flight when assessing his rivals.

Any suggestion that Rangers can or will finish with every other side behind them this term will be batted away by Clement. He will not get involved in title talk but he was happy to speak about the relationship between those on the park and those off it. If the bond continues to strengthen, it will naturally mean that Rangers are on course for honours.

“For sure,” Clement said when asked if the rapport between the players and the fans is starting to be repaired. “Like I said, it is a two way street. We need to show our passion, give everything, wanting to do everything to get results and then the fans follow. That you saw at the weekend. The players gave everything, they kept on going. If you repeat this for a certain time you will get back credit in the bank for a certain moment. It is building up these things to not do it one time but do it several times.

“That is the task to do and then there can be an incredible energy and synergy in the stadium again. That, for me, was one of the reasons to come here because I saw this, how much power that can give. I believe also a lot in those things. It is one of the important things I want to recreate between the fans and players.”