James Tavernier has unfinished business to deal with at Rangers

James Tavernier celebrates his penalty for Rangers against Aberdeen. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
James Tavernier celebrates his penalty for Rangers against Aberdeen. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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James Tavernier has played down speculation linking him with a move away from Rangers and has expressed a willingness to sign a new 
contract with the Ibrox club.

The attacking right-back, one of Rangers’ top performers this season, has been linked with moves to English Championship sides Sunderland and Reading during the current transfer window.

But Tavernier, whose current contract runs out in the summer of 2019, insists he has “unfinished business” in Scottish football as he seeks to fulfil his ambition of 
winning major trophies with Rangers.

“I don’t like to get into speculation,” said the former Newcastle United and Wigan player. “I’m fully committed to Rangers. I’m still learning here and I’m still growing here.

“I’m still under contract for another 18 months so I’m really happy here.

“I came here to win trophies. Also, in all the Old Firm games I’ve played, I’ve only been on the winning side once so far. I want to win some more of them. I still have unfinished business as a Rangers player.

“It’s down to the club whether I sign a longer deal here. As I say, I’ve still got 18 months to go. It’s totally down to the club if they want to extend my contract. I’ll have to wait and see.”

Tavernier, 26, was an influential performer once again on Wednesday night with an assist and then a goal from the penalty spot as Rangers defeated Aberdeen 2-0 at Ibrox to jump above the 
Pittodrie side into second place in the Premiership on goal difference.

He was hugely encouraged by the display from Graeme Murty’s men on an evening which saw January signings Russell Martin, Sean Goss, James Murphy and Jason Cummings all make their debuts.

“We put on a good display and then rode out the storm when Aberdeen put a bit of pressure on us at the end of the game,” added Tavernier.

“We’re delighted to win 2-0 and keep a clean sheet.

“Second place in the league is the minimum we should be aiming for. We sent out a statement on Wednesday night but we can’t let that standard drop.

“We have to go to Ross County on Sunday with the same quality and desire to win the game. We have to get the three points up there.

“It’s always challenging going away to different places when the other teams step their game up against us. But we have to play the way we did against Aberdeen.

“The new lads gelled in well and we showed a good ability when we were attacking, although we know we can finish off more of the chances we create.

“The new players offer something new to the team. They have all settled in really well. Three started against Aberdeen and Jason came on. They are going to have a big impact on the team in the second half of the season. We all have to step up our game.

“We have a big squad now and there are also a lot of guys to come back from injuries. It’s going to step up the standards with people trying to keep their places in the team. It will drive us to be better.

“We have to bring silverware to the club. The new additions have brought more quality to the team so I believe silverware is a minimum requirement for this club.

“We are going in the right direction now. We have shown it in the big games but now we have to show it 
in every single game, the levels of performance we can put in.

“The new additions have stepped up our game. We have beaten Aberdeen three times now and we had a good performance against Celtic at the end of December when we felt we could maybe have won the game.

“So we are going in the right direction. We just have to continue it.”

Tavernier, pictured, grabbed his fifth goal of the season in Wednesday’s win with his second successful penalty against Aberdeen, having also netted from 12 yards against Derek McInnes’ side in the 3-0 win at Ibrox in November.

A lengthy delay for treatment to Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis, injured in conceding the spot-kick with a foul on Josh Windass, tested Tavernier’s nerve. However he is looking to retain his status as Rangers’ first choice penalty taker.

“It took my mind off it, seeing Joe on the floor for so long,” said Tavernier.

“He was obviously really badly hurt. I don’t really know him that well, but I’ve spoken to him a few times after games. It’s not nice seeing a fellow professional get injured like that.

“But I had already picked where I was going to put the penalty, so I was nice and calm in the build up to taking it.

“I got put on to penalties earlier this season in a game when Alfredo Morelos didn’t play in that last game at Ibrox against Aberdeen. I scored it and I’ve been on them ever since.

“I’ve always been confident in my ability to score penalties, so, hopefully, that 
continues.”