Anyone but Rangers pleads Dundee on-loan star as he seeks to catch new Ibrox manager's eye

At the end of Scottish Cup ties, with thoughts turning to Monday night’s fourth-round draw, it’s customary to invite a player or manager from the winning team to reveal who they might prefer in the next round.

Dundee on-loan midfielder Ben Williamson understandably wants to avoid parent club Rangers in the next round of the Scottish Cup  (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Dundee on-loan midfielder Ben Williamson understandably wants to avoid parent club Rangers in the next round of the Scottish Cup (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

It’s World Cup time so many people will be familiar with the acronym ABE – Anyone But England. As far as Dundee midfielder Ben Williamson, man of the match in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Airdrieonians, is concerned, it’s a case of ABR: Anyone But Rangers.

The on-loan Rangers player has already missed out on one big cup day out earlier this season, when Dundee were drawn against his parent club in a League Cup quarter-final. Williamson, who was then still finding his feet at Dens, might not have featured anyway, even if he was permitted to play.

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But the 21-year-old is becoming an ever more vital cog in manager Gary Bowyer’s midfield. He was certainly pivotal as the Dens Park side earned a place in the fourth round, even if the tie was delicately placed at 2-2 when he was replaced five minutes into extra-time.

It had proved hard going but four more goals against ten-man Airdrie, who had Cameron Ballantyne sent off at the end of the second half, secured Dundee's passage.

Williamson, who has yet to open his account for the club, might have relished being on the pitch as the goals started to fly in. However, he played a large part in ensuring the hosts earned an extra 30 minutes to turn the screw against the spirited visitors from League One.

“A win’s a win, eh?” said Williamson afterwards. When inevitably asked who he wanted in the next round, he smiled: “I would say Rangers but I can’t play against them! I think we can beat anyone, so just whoever we get.”

The draw takes place later today and the next round is not until January. Williamson hopes to ensure he’s not forgotten about at a time of flux at Ibrox. A new manager is on the way and while Michael Beale – if it proves to be him – will already know all about Williamson, it’s worth the youngster’s while making sure he’s excelling in the Championship.

Fortunately for him, Rangers loan manager, former Dundee United and Dundee player Billy Kirkwood, is reliably diligent when assessing his charges. "He's always at my games or he's always doing analysis on me, he gives me feedback and tells me what I can do better – never what I am good at!" he said.

Williamson understands what's at stake. Although helping Dundee back into the Premiership is the priority in the short-term, he's conscious he has just one more year left at Ibrox come the summer. He’s desperate to impress the incoming Rangers manager, whether Beale or someone else.

"100 per cent," said Williamson. "I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully catch the eye of...whoever. My focus is Dundee and winning the league and getting into the next round. We have done that so I am happy."

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He's glad to be firmly in the manager's plans after what he admits was a "slow" start at Dens: "I have hit the ground running in the last few games so I just need to keep the standards up. Nae slacking basically!”

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