DCSIMG

Former Rangers team-mates talk up Kenny Miller’s return to Ibrox

Rangers' Lee McCulloch in action. Picture: SNS

Rangers' Lee McCulloch in action. Picture: SNS

  • by STUART BATHGATE
 

BOTH Lee McCulloch and David Weir have welcomed a possible return to Ibrox later in the year for Kenny Miller.

The 33-year-old striker said in the club’s match programme on Saturday that he would like to return to Rangers for a third spell and neither of his former team-mates see any reason why he couldn’t fit back into the team.

Currently with Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS, Miller would be unable to rejoin his old club until September under the terms of their present transfer embargo. He is, however, training with Rangers just now while the MLS is on its winter break, and he said he had ended his second stint at Ibrox reluctantly at a time when the club needed to raise money.

“There is no doubt I would come back,” said Miller, who left for Turkish club Bursaspor in January 2011. “I’d definitely do it, it’s whether it could happen. You never know in football.

“I’m delighted to be back at Murray Park. You miss the place. I always said when I was here it was an amazing place to come and work and that has not changed. I never wanted to leave. At the time we were trying to negotiate a new deal and it was pretty much made clear to me that wasn’t going to happen. I wish I could have stayed.”

Weir, who is now a reserve-team coach with Everton, played on with Rangers into his 40s. Although admitting that his role as a central defender was easier to fulfil as a veteran than being a striker, he said he believed that Miller would find little difficulty in carrying on beyond this season.

“I’m sure it would be a good move for both parties,” he said. “Kenny has obviously had a good career at Rangers already and is capable of scoring goals. He is an international footballer and has had a great career. I haven’t spoken to him and I don’t know what his circumstances are. He’s got a contract in the MLS and I don’t know how it would work.

“But he would be a great signing. Could he rolls his sleeves up and get stuck in in the lower leagues? He’d have no choice. That’s where Rangers are and that’s what everybody at the club has to do. It goes with the territory at the moment and it’s a decision he would have to take. I’m sure everyone who plays for Rangers nowadays has to make the decision and ask if they are prepared to do it at that stage of your career. Who’s to know what will happen? But playing for Rangers at any time is a great thing.

“I came to Rangers for five years, when I thought it would be five months at most. That’s been a lesson for me. It’s not easy to play on. It’s easier to play at centre-half than it is at centre-forward, but he has a lot of mileage left and I don’t think that is a problem.”

McCulloch, who was at Hampden with Weir yesterday as part of an SFA coaching course, suggested that Kris Boyd and Steven Smith, another two Rangers old boys who are also training with the club at present, could join Miller in making a return. “I think that the three of them would be good signings for the club,” he said. “It’s just a matter of whether that’s possible, or whether the boss felt he could take them back after the three guys had previous spells with the club when he was there.

“Kenny said in the programme yesterday that he wanted to come back and he’s not shy in showing where he wants to play. If anyone is coming to Rangers then they need to roll their sleeves up, because it’s not as easy as people say it is in the Third Division. It’s right what they say – players who leave this club still have feelings for it and want to come back. It shows you the size of the club and how good it is.

“You often don’t know how good it is until you leave – that’s why I don’t ever want to leave, as I suspect I’d feel the same way. It’s a good place to play your football.”

While Weir was celebrating getting his Pro Licence certificate at the end of a two-year course, McCulloch is just beginning the final step towards being a fully qualified course. The 34-year-old has two-and-a-half years of his current Rangers contract to go, and although much depends on how he feels physically at the end of that period, he hopes that his next deal after that will be to act as a player/coach.

“Maybe I’ll feel good at the end of two and a half years or maybe I’ll be tired like I was on Saturday,” said McCulloch, who has been working with the Rangers under-15s. “I’ll be looking to be a coach after that time – either at Rangers or away from the club. If I can play as well, then that would be great. All managers and coaches are the same: it can take over your life, but it’s something I’d love a crack at.

“I’ve learnt a lot from Ally [McCoist],” he continued. “How to handle pressure, last season, is one thing, because it took its strain on him. I watched how he handled it and I thought he did it brilliantly. This season it’s a different kind of pressure.

“I watch everybody: I’ve become a bit obsessed. I ask all the boys about what their managers do. I don’t speak too much to the gaffer about the coaching side, because I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes. I’m just quietly learning my stuff in the background.”

• Lee McCulloch and David Weir were speaking at the Scottish FA’s Uefa Pro Licence course at Hampden Park. Visit www.scottishfa.co.uk/coacheducation for information on all coaching courses available.

 

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