Rangers boss Mark Warburton blanked questions on the row which has placed Joey Barton’s Ibrox future in doubt after Rangers’ goalless draw with Ross County.
The midfielder has been told to stay away from the club until Monday following an angry bust-up with his boss and team-mate Andy Halliday.
That ruled the 34-year-old out of Saturday’s stalemate, a result which leaves Gers on the verge of dropping six points and a game in hand behind Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic just over a month into the season.
But Warburton refused to confirm whether the Light Blues support had seen the last of the former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR man following Tuesday’s training-ground argument.
Reports in the Sunday Times claimed the player is set to agree a contract termination with the club in a meeting on Monday.
But when questioned on Barton’s future, Warburton walked out of his post-match press conference as reporters asked one question too many on the subject.
The Gers boss said: “I’m not going to talk about Joey Barton.
“It’s an internal matter that is being dealt with by Rangers Football Club. We won’t make any comment on any internal matter.”
The Staggies stalemate was not the result the beleaguered Ibrox support were looking for following last week’s 5-1 hammering at the hands of Celtic.
But Warburton insisted the controversy with Barton which followed that derby debacle had not disrupted his build-up to facing Jim McIntyre’s men.
“Not at all,” said the Englishman. “It’s just another matter that you deal with, it’s part of the challenge of day-to-day working life.
“It didn’t affect our preparations. We did very well, we trained well and we gave a good performance but didn’t get the rewards that I felt we deserved today.”
Gers were looking to get back to winning ways after their humbling Parkhead lesson.
But the best they could muster was a second-half header from substitute Michael O’Halloran which crashed off the bar.
Halliday took over from Barton in midfield while Jason Holt returned after five weeks out injured. Teamed with the impressive Josh Windass in the centre of the park, there was more energy about Rangers but they were still missing the spark that made Warburton’s team such a force last term.
Skipper Lee Wallace and wideman Barrie McKay looked short on confidence while Martyn Waghorn – back after tearing his hamstring on the opening day – looked short of sharpness.
But the manager – who criticised the lack of positivity coming from the media earlier this week – tried to put a gloss on his side’s display.
The former City trader said: “I’m never happy about dropping two points at home but I’m very pleased with the performance. That’s our best 90-minute performance of the season.
“We wanted to go back to basics. I always go back to the money markets. If you lose a bunch of money you don’t try to win it back the following day. You build slowly.
“We said come in and move the ball quickly, show an energy and desire. Get bodies forward and create chances. We did that. I’m sure you’ll agree we created more than enough chances to win two or three games. We just hit every part of the goalkeeper’s body.
“It was one of those days but we’ve got to be much happier with the quality of performance. Nine times out of 10 that will be enough to win games.”