Lee Hodson credits new Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson as a major influence on the career path which led him to last summer’s European Championship finals and earned him a move to Rangers.
But the Northern Ireland international full-back hopes Robinson experiences only disappointment at Ibrox this afternoon. For Hodson, pictured, impressing the new man in the Rangers technical area is the priority.
Hodson is likely to start this afternoon’s Premiership fixture at right-back in place of the suspended James Tavernier. It is a crucial opportunity for the 25-year-old, who has only made three starting appearances for Rangers since the winter break, to show Pedro Caixinha he can be part of his longer term plans for the club.
“If I play the main thing for me is that I show the new manager what I can do,” said Hodson. “He was in the stand at Parkhead when we played against Celtic three weeks ago, so he has watched me play already. I just need to do what I can and my best for the team when I get the chance. As a player, you want to play in the big games so it’s been good for me that I’ve played in the Old Firm matches this season. That’s what it’s all about, being a professional player.
“Sure, I would like to have had a few more games in the last six months. But when I’m called upon I just need to make sure I’m physically and mentally in the right condition to do the best I can for myself and the team. It’s then up to the manager whether I’m going to stay in the team or not.”
Hodson has no doubts Motherwell have made the right choice in their appointment of Robinson as their manager.
“He’s a good guy and someone who helped me a lot with my development, coming through the age groups with Northern Ireland,” added Hodson.
“He was my manager with the under-21s at international level, then he moved up to the senior squad to work with Michael O’Neill. At the Euros last year, we were all away together for nine weeks.
“He is a good coach and has a good knowledge of the game. When you’re young you need coaches who give you a telling off sometimes but Robbo always had a good way about him. He has good character. When he needed to be harsh he could be but he also knows how to speak to a group of lads.
“Some lads need to be screamed at, others need an arm around them. Robbo had good banter too, getting involved with the lads. I’ve only ever had good experience with him.
“He has done very well after going down to Oldham where things didn’t work out for him. Now he’s back up here at Motherwell where I wish him all the best for the future. For Rangers, though, it’s important we take the three points.”
Caixinha is targeting a strong finish to the season with second place in the Premiership and Scottish Cup success his immediate priorities. The Rangers squad could face a shortened summer break, with a first Europa League qualifier on 29 June, but that prospect doesn’t faze Hodson.
“We’ve got a very big prize at the end of it which would be qualifying for the group stages of Europe and if you ask any of the players in the squad do they want to make the group stages of the Europa League, then the whole squad is going to put their hands up,” he said.
“I haven’t booked a holiday and I don’t think many of the lads have. We’ve got the semi-final and hopefully the cup final, so I don’t think many of the lads have got holidays on their minds at this moment.
“For me, there are also internationals in the summer. Northern Ireland have got a game on 10 June away to Azerbaijan, so if I’m in that squad I’m sure there will be a few training camps at the end of May, so I probably won’t get much holiday at all. But I’m happy enough to go and play for my country and then come back to try to make Europe with Rangers.”