HAVING contributed to Rangers’ miserable record in cup football during the 2012-13 campaign, Nicky Clark is convinced his new club are more ably equipped to make a significant impact in all competitions they enter next season.
Clark, one of five summer signings made so far by Rangers manager Ally McCoist, was on promotional duty at Ibrox yesterday as the Third Division champions urge supporters to renew their season tickets.
The 22-year-old striker netted one of his 41 goals for Queen of the South last season against Rangers when the Dumfries side dramatically knocked them out of the Ramsdens Cup at the quarter-final stage.
Rangers also lost at home in the last eight of the League Cup, beaten 3-0 by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, and went out of the Scottish Cup in the fifth round when they slumped by the same scoreline to Dundee United at Tannadice.
“I think the squad will be better suited to doing well in the cups this time,” said Clark. “We’ve made a few good signings and other people will be coming in. The club has been signing really good, experienced players. I think we’ll want to make an impact in all the cup competitions as well as the league.
“A lot of people will be expecting us to do well in the cups and we will be trying to do that. But the main thing will be to try to win the league because the most important thing is to get back into the SPL as quickly as we can.
“The cup results were disappointing for Rangers last season but, as far as the Ramsdens Cup goes, you have to remember that Queen of the South were a good team last year. It was a good night for us, but hopefully now that I am a Rangers player there will be a lot of good nights for me and the club.
“It will be a different story this season. Last year, Rangers had a lot of young boys in and now we are bringing in a lot of experience, so I think we will have a good team.”
Clark is not yet certain when he will be able to make his competitive debut for Rangers, along with fellow newcomers Cammy Bell, Nicky Law, Jon Daly and Arnold Peralta.
They will not become officially registered Rangers players until 1 September, when the club’s 18-month embargo expires. Under existing Scottish Football League rules, Rangers would be allowed to play new signings as trialists before then.But if league reconstruction gets the go-ahead for next season, with SFL clubs due to vote on the plan next Wednesday, the rules of the proposed new Scottish Professional Football League would prevent trialists being fielded in both league and League Cup fixtures.
“It would be frustrating if I can’t play until 1 September,” said Clark. “But I have signed a three-year contract here and whenever I am able to play, I will be ready. Whatever happens, I can still play in pre-season matches, so I am looking forward to doing that and getting my fitness up. I want to play in those games to make sure I’m ready. It’s important that I get as many chances as possible to play alongside Jon Daly, for example, because strike partnerships don’t just happen overnight. That’s why we’ll play together in friendlies, so that we are ready by the time we go into competitive games. It will be harder to get into the team here because there are a lot of good players. But I am up for the challenge.
“Jon Daly is the type of striker I like to play alongside and hopefully it can work out well with him if that’s the partnership the manager goes with. He’s an experienced player who knows how to read the game. He can win a lot of flick-ons and I can get on the second balls. I think it can work well. Playing up front with Jon, if that’s what happens, will allow me to benefit from his experience. I’m sure he can teach me a lot in the next few years.
“I’m just hoping I can do as well again this year for Rangers as I did at Queen of the South. I think I’ll get more chances playing here, but last year was a memorable season. If I get anything like 40 goals again, it will be another great season. I know it is going to be hard to get into the team here because there are so many good players. I’m just going to get my head down and work hard, hopefully get in the team and once I’m in, try to score a few goals and stay in it.”
Having played such a pivotal role in Queens’ romp to the Second Division title last season, Clark knows what Rangers can expect as they look to follow suit. “It’s a hard league,” added Clark. “Boys just love playing football in this league, but they are also capable of getting stuck right into you. When they come to Ibrox, it is massive for them so it will be hard for us but I’m sure we’ll adapt to it and do well. The experience the players had in the Third Division last season will help them as well.
“I’ve got a wee insight into the teams we’ll be playing and they are all good teams. You don’t get any easy games in this league, so it will be hard but I’m sure we’ll do well.”