Rangers hero Gordon Smith has told The Sunday Post that he thinks a win for Rangers against Aberdeen will speed up Joey Barton's exit from Ibrox.
Rangers travel to Pittodrie this afternoon for a crucial Scottish Premiership clash, with both Aberdeen and the Gers harbouring ambitions of challenging Celtic at the top of the table.
Having lost 5-1 to Celtic in the Old Firm derby earlier this month and then drawn 0-0 with Ross County, Rangers did pick up a morale-boosting 5-0 win over Queen of the South in the Scottish League Cup in midweek.
It's a much tougher task today though as they take on Aberdeen, with the situation surrounding midfielder Joey Barton still hanging over the club.
Barton, 34, left Burnley following their promotion to the Premier League in order to join Rangers on a two-year contract, with the ex-Newcastle United and Manchester City ace seen as Rangers' marquee signing.
A veteran presence with great quality on the field, Barton has now been suspended for a training ground row with team-mate Andy Halliday, and won't return until October.
Many will feel that Barton isn't much of a miss for Rangers given that he has struggled in his eight games for the club, and Gers hero Gordon Smith believes beating Aberdeen may even accelerate Barton's departure from the club.
Speaking to The Sunday Post, Smith - scored 35 goals in 98 games for Rangers - stated that a win over Aberdeen would prove that Rangers don't need Barton, and make the decision over Barton's future at Ibrox much easier to make in the coming weeks.
“Beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie in his absence this afternoon and it is almost certain the Scouser’s days at Ibrox will be numbered,” said Smith. “The start Rangers have made to their Premiership campaign with Joey Barton in the side has been underwhelming. In addition to the 5-1 defeat by Celtic there have been the trio of draws with Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Ross County.
“However, a victory at Pittodrie, in a fixture with added spice because the clubs have not faced one another since 2012, would add real momentum to the season. It won’t be easy. The Dons have been Celtic’s closest contenders in Rangers absence and look solid again, but if they play the way they did against Queens they will have a chance. A chance of three points and also of hurrying Joey Barton out the door,” he added.
TVpundit Mark Lawrenson has no sympathy for Barton, saying on "Football Focus" on Saturday: "A promising career ruined by a continual brain injury!"