Sitting on the bench is usually the bane of any footballer’s life but Joe Garner insists it has been highly beneficial in his bid to become Rangers’ first-choice central striker.
The most expensive acquisition of the summer – a £1.8 million purchase from Preston North End – was able to study the way the front three work in Mark Warburton’s system and, in particular, the way that Kenny Miller leads the line.
With goals in each of his last two matches that have helped elevate Rangers to second place, Garner feels he is well on his way to hitting top form and cites Miller as a major inspiration.
He said: “I think the little bit of time where I was on the bench has helped me massively, watching the games and watching how Kenny plays up there.
“Looking at his movement off the ball has benefitted me massively, and hopefully we’ll see the results of that.
“I think if you see Kenny out on the training ground then you’d say he can probably play anywhere.
“He’s a good footballer and has a pretty good football brain, so he’d fit quite comfortably anywhere in the team. He’s a top footballer.
“I don’t think I’m far off full sharpness. This is a totally different style of football from what I’ve been playing for the last four years, but I feel I’m improving every day in training and in games as well.
“As a striker you’re always judged on your goals, not your all-round play, but I think the gaffer’s number nine here tends to come a little bit more towards the ball and the wingers come in, too. It’s a different system and it takes a bit of getting used to, but I feel it can only improve me as a player.”
Outwith defeats at Celtic Park and Pittodrie, Rangers carelessly dropped points at home to Hamilton, Ross County and St Johnstone and also away to Kilmarnock.
However, Garner believes the second phase of Premiership matches will see a marked improvement in results, starting with Sunday’s trip to Dingwall to face County when he will reconnect with a couple of old familiar faces.
The 28-year-old striker said: “We’ve played well in the last couple of games, probably the best we’ve played all season.
“We’re improving every week. There have been a lot of new signings, so everyone knew it would take a bit of time.
“We’ve got to keep working hard and, hopefully, we can keep picking up full results.
“I’ve played against Andrew Davies a few times back down south but I don’t know him personally. He was at Middlesbrough and Bradford so I’ve played against him a few times and I’ll look forward to the battle.
“I was also at Blackburn with Jay McEveley, who is a good player. He’s had a good career, so I’ll look forward to the battle against him too.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully taking three points as well.”