Martyn Waghorn celebrated his 27th birthday earlier this week but any temptation to muse that he is entering the latter stages of his career was easily resisted by a glance at the man still running around like a teenager beside him at the Rangers training ground.
All of ten years Waghorn’s senior, Kenny Miller remains the Ibrox club’s most effective striker as his two late match-winning goals in last Saturday’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Motherwell illustrated.
As Waghorn seeks to force his own way back into the Rangers forward line on a regular basis again, the longevity and performance levels of Miller, pictured right, set a standard he is keen to emulate.
“I speak to Kenny about a lot of things off the field,” said Waghorn. “He’s a great help to me and he does give you inspiration – not just me, but the younger boys coming through, that you can play for Rangers until you are X number of years old if you conduct yourself properly.
“He is a great example for anyone coming through. As a striker, it gives you confidence and belief that you can still score goals at a high level if you do things right on and off the pitch.
“Kenny is of great importance to us. He has been there, he has done it and he is a great person to have around the club. He talks to the younger boys, his dedication on and off the field is first class and he is someone that we can all look up to. It just shows at his age that he is still contributing, scoring goals and winning games for the club. He knows how to do it and he is a great asset to the team.
“I remember when I was a 17-year-old at Sunderland, we had strikers like Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole who came to the club later in their careers and they had different impacts. They were vocal and they spoke but they didn’t have quite the impact that Kenny has. He is still scoring, still contributing. You can see by his dedication on the pitch how he contributes and gets us going.
“You respect the pros who have won championships, won trophies and whatever they have got to say is important. They have been there and done it, they have played in front of 50,000 for years. They know what is going on and they can only help you at the end of the day.
“The way Kenny is going, I can’t see him stopping. I don’t know how he does it every day. He’s the first out on the training pitch every day, running about. He’s got some energy for his age. He’s still got the hunger and he has also really bought into the way the manager has us playing.
“He is really excited by where the club is going, like we all are. It’s a young, hungry squad which wants to achieve a lot of things.
“Kenny has almost got a second wind in his career from that. That’s what is driving him on.”
Waghorn has had to settle for substitute appearances in Rangers’ last three games but made a telling contribution when he came on last Saturday, providing a clever lofted pass which set up Miller’s equalising goal. He is hopeful it may have earned him a starting spot for today’s rematch with Motherwell in a lunchtime Premiership fixture at Fir Park.
“It is something that I can do coming off the bench and whatever time you get, you need to contribute to the game,” he added. “It was a nice assist and coming off the bench you want to make an impact. Hopefully I have done that and we will see where it takes us this week.”
Waghorn still has 18 months on his contract but does not expect any developments on talks over a new deal until he has regained a regular place in Mark Warburton’s line-up.
“There’s not been so much progress on it yet,” he admitted. “First, I need to get into the team, start scoring and contributing to the team. Then we can take it from there. I want to get back playing and doing my job for the team before I can get talks on the contract going.
“I would like to get it sorted in time, but I’m quite relaxed about it. The club is relaxed about it too. I’m quite settled here and so are my family. Hopefully everything will fall into place.”