Shane Ferguson ready for Rangers play-off bid

SHANE Ferguson has assured Stuart McCall he is determined to make a contribution to Rangers’ promotion bid after impressing the Ibrox manager since his belated arrival from Newcastle United on Monday.

The Northern Ireland international is back in training. Picture: SNS
The Northern Ireland international is back in training. Picture: SNS

McCall did not anticipate Ferguson, who is recovering from a serious knee injury sustained late last year, playing first-team football before the end of the regulation league season. However, he is confident the 23-year-old can play a part in the Premiership play-offs.

Rangers, who travel to face Livingston tonight aiming to leapfrog Hibs in second place in the Championship, are keen to avoid taking part in the play-offs until the semi-final stage in the middle of next month, by which time McCall expects left midfielder Ferguson to be fit.

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The player has already convinced McCall that he wants to be at the club, even though it is only for such a short spell at the tail end of the season. Ferguson’s arrival was further delayed by a sickness bug.

“He’s been out for five months and has trained for the past two weeks [at Newcastle] but the one good thing about Shane is his mental state,” said McCall. “Speaking to Shane I liked the way he was talking. He wants to get straight into it.”

The manager revealed that had yesterday’s under-20s game against Dundee United at Forfar’s Station Park not been on an artificial pitch then Ferguson could have featured.

“He trained on Monday and having spoken to him I was really impressed with that,” said McCall. “In my mind if you’ve been out that long you’re going to need four to six weeks to get back on track. He certainly won’t be ready in the next couple of weeks but he’s done a lot of hard work on Monday and Tuesday.

“He’s a naturally fit lad but when you’ve been out that long it’s not just the physical aspect, it’s the mental aspect and he seems really focused. So that was pleasing. So hopefully he might play a part in the back end of the season but he won’t be involved in the short-term because he needs games.”

The Northern Ireland international is back in training. Picture: SNS

Ferguson, who has been capped 18 times by Northern Ireland, joined the club on loan from Newcastle in February as part of the controversial deal that saw five players arrive at Rangers from the North-east.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s involvement at Rangers, where he is a shareholder, facilitated the deal but questions were quickly raised when it became clear that three of the five players had fitness concerns, with Ferguson still in the early stages of his rehabilitation period.

It has also since emerged that Rangers must pay Newcastle a further £500,000 if they reach the top flight as part of the loan deal. McCall yesterday said he would be happy to pay this fee since it would mean Rangers have succeeded in their ambition for the season.

“If it was me – and it’s not my money – I’d be loving to give Newcastle £500,000 because that means we have got promotion,” he said. “But it’s not my money. If it’s part of the deal – which it is – you’ve got to stand by your deal.”

McCall believes there is no conflict between Rangers and Newcastle. Picture: SNS