Where are they now? The “Newcastle Five” who joined Rangers on loan in 2015

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They were dubbed the “Newcastle Five” - a quintet of fringe and youth players sent on the short journey north from St James’ Park to Ibrox in early 2015, at the time Sports Direct supremo and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley - who had a 8.92 per cent stake in Rangers International Football Club - was floating the idea of securing a £10 million loan for the club using Ibrox stadium as security.

Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson, Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streete and Haris Vuckic all joined on loan without undergoing medicals, with Rangers caretaker boss Kenny McDowall claiming at the time that he was told he had to play all five players.

Left-right: Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson, Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streete, Haris Vuckic. Pictures: SNS Group

Left-right: Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson, Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streete, Haris Vuckic. Pictures: SNS Group

Ashley cohorts Derek Llambias and Barry Leach were in control at Ibrox at the time the deals were pushed through.

It emerged the following month that, should Rangers secure promotion to the Scottish Premiership, they would have to pay £500,000 to Newcastle. In the end, only Vuckic ended up making any sort of impact at Ibrox.

The Slovenian midfielder played 22 times for the Light Blues, scoring nine and assisting four.

With two appearances, Ferguson got the most game time after Vuckic, with Streete lasting 43 minutes on his debut before being substituted through injury. He never featured for the club again.

Bigirimana and Mbabu didn’t appear for Rangers in any capacity.

When Stuart McCall succeeded McDowall as manager, he claimed Mbabu was “nowhere near fit enough” for first-team football while Bigirimana was reported to be suffering from a mystery ailment that cast doubt over his future as a footballer.

Ferguson was sidelined through injury until the play-off matches. It seems like a lifetime ago - but where are the quintet these days?

Gael Bigirimana - Motherwell (via Coventry)

The Burundi international made 28 appearances for Coventry before joining Newcastle in time for the 2012/13 season. He made 24 appearances, scoring once, but would only make one further appearance for the Magpies the following year.

After his spell at Rangers - during which he didn’t make a single first-team appearance as he battled illness - he returned to Coventry on an emergency loan in November 2015, with the deal being extended until the end of the 2015/16 season.

He later signed a one-year deal with the Sky Blues after cancelling his Newcastle contract, and finished his spell at the Ricoh Arena having made 52 appearances and scored twice.

He put pen to paper on a two-year deal with Motherwell in June 2017, and has so far made more than 50 appearances for the Steelmen, scoring three times.

Shane Ferguson - Millwall

The versatile left-sided Northern Irishman made 32 appearances for Newcastle between 2010/11 and 2012/13, and had two loan stints at Birmingham, where he made a total of 34 appearances, scoring once in the process.

Ruled out for the season as he recovered from a knee ligament injury, he nevertheless made a return to the bench for Rangers’ Scottish Premiership play-off semi-final first-leg match against Hibs at Ibrox, but was an unused sub. He didn’t make the matchday squad for the return fixture but did feature in the final against Motherwell, playing 23 minutes of the first leg as a sub, and 55 minutes of the return leg, starting at left back.

He joined Millwall on loan for the 2015/16 season, scoring three times in 46 appearances, before making his move to The Den permanent in January 2016.

He scored four goals in 52 matches as the the Lions won promotion to the Championship and is still there, having scored 12 goals and assisted 18 in 149 games.

Kevin Mbabu - Young Boys Bern

The Swiss defender did feature in a Rangers shirt, but only for the Light Blues’ development squad - including an appearance in the 2015 Scottish Youth Cup final against Celtic.

The former Servette youngster had left his homeland to join Newcastle in 2013, but made just five appearances - all of them during the 2015/16 season - before departing for good in the summer of 2017.

He spent the 2015/16 season on loan at Young Boys, ending the season with 24 appearances and two goals.

The right-back made the move permanent in time for the start of the 2017/18 season and to date has made 90 appearances, contributing five goals and 15 assists.

He was part of the Young Boys team that won the Swiss League title last season and has been linked with a €9 million move to German Bundesliga side Schalke in the last few days.

Remie Streete - free agent (via Port Vale)

Streete arrived at Ibrox with just three senior appearances under his belt, all for Port Vale in a previous loan spell from Newcastle.

He started the Gers’ Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox against Raith Rovers on February 8 2015, but lasted just 43 minutes before being forced off with an injury.

Vuckic scored on his debut for the Light Blues but a Christian Nade goal ensured Rovers advanced to the next round.

Streete - a winner of the Wor Jackie Award at Newcastle, given to the club’s Young Player of the Year - didn’t feature for Rangers again and returned to St James’ Park in the summer.

He was released by the Magpies on his return as he sought first-team football. He returned to Port Vale, signing a permanent two-year deal. He began the 2015/16 season competing with current Dundee defender Ryan Inniss and Richard Duffy for one of two centre-back berths, but eventually fell behind ex-Hibs defender Ryan McGivern in the pecking order.

Although he was a first pick the following season, and was hailed by manager Bruno Ribeiro as a “top player [who] can play in the Premier League”, he picked up an unusual injury on the back of his knee in February 2017 and was released by the club in May after the club was relegated to League Two. Streete is still without a club.

Haris Vuckic - FC Twente (via Wigan and Bradford)

Undoubtedly the success story of the loan quintet, Haris Vuckic scored an impressive nine goals and notched five assists in 22 appearances for Rangers.

The Slovenian attacking midfielder had made 19 appearances for Newcastle prior to making the move north, and hit the ground running at Ibrox with a debut goal against Raith Rovers followed by strikes against Queen of the South and Livingston in March; a double against Cowdenbeath and further strikes against Hearts, Raith, Dumbarton and Falkirk in April.

His form prompted Rangers to try and engineer a return for the 2015/16 season but the player opted to move to Wigan.

In 17 games for the Latics he scored twice and notched one assist, before another loan spell at Bradford saw him score four in 14 and grab two assists.

Since joining Twente he has scored four in 15 games, with one assist, but is currently nursing a knee injury.

Vuckic has suffered a host of injuries at the Eredivisie side including a tendon crack and thigh problems, and his last appearance came in a league match against Groningen on March 4 last year.