Rangers’ James Tavernier game for a new challenge

James Tavernier is relishing the challenge of being a marked man. Picture: SNS
James Tavernier is relishing the challenge of being a marked man. Picture: SNS
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James Tavernier has admitted he is being forced to seek new ways to maintain his status as one of Rangers’ most potent attacking weapons.

But the swashbuckling right-back is also convinced there is no need for the Ibrox side to change their overall strategy, despite seeing their lead at the top of the Championship cut to three points in recent weeks.

Tavernier was the undoubted star of Rangers’ prolific early-season form as he scored nine goals in his first 14 appearances.

The well has run a little dry for the former Newcastle and Wigan man since then, with just one goal in his last eight outings as opposing teams have started to pay him extra attention.

But the 25-year-old is relishing the personal challenge that poses and insists Rangers will continue to pursue the title using the short-passing game introduced by manager Mark Warburton.

“I don’t believe we need a plan B,” said Tavernier. “When we lost to Hibs a few weeks ago, we still dominated the ball and it was just down to us not taking chances. If we’d done that, it would have been a different story.

“Apart from the two goals we lost, Hibs didn’t really create a lot. Then in the draw against Livingston, it was frustrating for the lads. We dominated again but we tried to force it a bit towards the end of the game and, when we watched the analysis later, we realised that just isn’t us.

“Plan A is the best way to play and it has worked for us most weeks. In previous games, we’ve passed and played towards the end and still got the late goals. If we keep doing that, goals will come.

“As far as my own game goes, I have noticed that people have tried to stop me more when I get on the ball. They have been closing me down and doubling up on me. That gives me something different to think about it and I like it.

“It’s good to think they are doubling up on me as I’m obviously doing something right. I need to try and find a way around that. I’m looking forward and I can’t wait to find other ways to get past people.”

Rangers welcome Morton to Ibrox this afternoon as they look to keep a gap between themselves and Hibs at the top of the table ahead of the festive clash between the title rivals on 28 December.

“I keep hearing people talk about the pressure Hibs are putting us under but I don’t feel any at all,” claimed Tavernier. “We are just doing what we normally do every week. Our record stands at lost once and drawn once, so it’s a great record for the season so far and good in any league. We think we are doing well and we will go into this weekend’s game to do what we normally do. We want to be aggressive, be dominant on the ball and hopefully claim another three points.

“I know we are being asked about pressure because HIbs are on a great run, but sometimes I think people forget that we are still on a great run too.

“We don’t really think about what Hibs are doing and what pressure is on us. Teams have been on good runs throughout the season and we’ve always shown up on the day and played better football.”

Tavernier has been linked with a move to Leeds United, where he began his career as a youth player. The Yorkshire club’s manager, Steve Evans, had Tavernier on loan at Rotherham United two seasons ago.

“My full commitment is to Rangers,” insists Tavernier. “At this time, I am enjoying my football, my family has moved up here and we are all enjoying the Glasgow experience.

“I just can’t wait to move up and push on with this club. It’s good to put down roots. That was my main aim when I came to Rangers, to put foundations down and settle at a club where I can be for years. This is definitely a club where I can see myself doing that.”