Niko Kranjcar and Joey Barton bring ‘class’ to Rangers

Niko Kranjcar celebrates scoring Rangers' third goal against Stranraer. Picture: SNS.
Niko Kranjcar celebrates scoring Rangers' third goal against Stranraer. Picture: SNS.
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Wes Foderingham believes the summer recruitment of Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar has left Rangers ideally placed to meet the challenge of their return to the top flight of 
Scottish football.

The Ibrox club continued their preparations for the Premiership kick-off on 6 August by wrapping up their Betfred Cup group stage fixtures with a fourth consecutive win and clean sheet against Stranraer on Monday night.

The experienced former English Premier League duo of Barton and Kranjcar both stood out in the 3-0 victory and goalkeeper Foderingham feels they will be key figures in ensuring Mark Warburton’s side make a seamless and successful transition from Championship to Premiership 
football this season.

“Niko and Joey have had fantastic careers, are still very fit and have a few good years left in them,” said Foderingham. “You can see from their displays the quality that they bring.

“There’s a touch of class and they fit right into the way we play so I’m sure they’ll be brilliant. You need those sort of characters in the dressing room – winners and people that can lead and Joey is definitely one of those people.

“From day one, he’s been very vocal and has been fantastic for all the boys. All the boys have been saying the same thing – that it’s great to have him on board.

“We’re blessed with fantastic quality throughout the squad. What you could say last season is that we didn’t have players who had been there and done it at the top level.

“We’ve got a lot of young players that are probably capable of playing at a higher level as well. So it’s great to now have these players on board with the experience they have had in their careers.

“The quality is there for all to see in the games we’ve played. There’s fantastic ability plus experience which I think we lacked a little bit last season.

“We’ve added the right quality in the right areas. You could see the squad was a little bit light last season but now we have strength in depth. Anybody is ready to step in and do a job. It will be interesting, it will be a good challenge for us.

“It’s difficult but the gaffer has always said he wants to work with a tight-knit squad – that he won’t just add numbers for the sake of it.

“He’ll add the right players of the right quality when they become available and that’s what he’s done in the summer. The squad’s taking shape now.”

Rangers will complete their pre-season programme with a friendly against Burnley at Ibrox on Saturday with Foderingham anticipating a significantly stiffer test than has been provided by their Betfred Cup matches.

“We always expected to win the four games in the group and we’ve done that,” he added. “To keep four clean sheets is brilliant as well.

“The Burnley game will be a step up in class but we feel we are ready for it now. We’ve had a few weeks of pre-season under our belts – it’s probably time to step things up and the Burnley game will be a good test.

“It always takes a while until you get to your optimum level. I know these Betfred Cup games are competitive but with all due respect to the standard, until you get into the actual league campaign it can take a while.

“We’ve done everything right so far. We had a great ten days in America so we’re ready and are hoping to go into the campaign with a winning start and the right mentality.”

Foderingham was an ever-present for Rangers last season, his first at the club following his move from Swindon Town. The 25-year-old now faces fresh competition for his place from Matt Gilks, the Scottish international keeper who moved to Ibrox on a free transfer from Burnley last month.

“Matt’s been good to have in,” said Foderingham. “He’s a lively character. He’s brilliant around the club and he trains really hard. That’s important as well because you need a group that all train really hard to help the development side of things.

“He’s coming in and expecting to play as well. I’m expecting to play and we’re both going to work as hard as we can.

“I’m looking forward to the new season – it’s a step up in class and another challenge for us. We feel we can compete. On a personal level, it’s a step up for myself and I’m ready for the challenge.”