Rangers’ Kyle Hutton admits lower league’s physicality came as big surprise

IN THE macho world of football, it is very rare for a player to admit that he and his colleagues were not as physically robust as they should have been.

IN THE macho world of football, it is very rare for a player to admit that he and his colleagues were not as physically robust as they should have been.

At the start of their first season in Scotland’s lowest league – and they had never played outside the top flight – Rangers were taken aback by the physical side of their new opponents, according to Kyle Hutton.

It’s a brave thing to admit, even if the problem was obvious three months ago. “We knew it was going to be physical,” said Hutton, “But maybe we didn’t realise how physical it was going to be.”

The penny dropped, according to both Hutton and his manager Ally McCoist, during the 2-0 victory at Clyde, the Ibrox club’s first away win in the Third Division.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“That game was a turning point,” said Hutton. “The gaffer came in and said to us that it was the turning point, and we kicked right on from there. Every game now our mentality has changed and we need to be a lot tougher on the field. All in all we are handling it a lot better.”

Having just taken part in Rangers’ tenth win on the trot against Queen’s Park on Saturday, Hutton says he and his colleagues have learned from their early experiences.

“I just think we are getting used to it, plain and simple,” he said. “At the start we just weren’t used to it at all, small grounds and stuff like that. We know what to expect now a lot more, we are just used to it and taking things as they come.”

The player admits that his poor spell at the start of the season made him think of leaving Ibrox, but with his recent run in the team, he’s looking to extend his stay.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

He said: “It’s what every player feels like when you are going through a bad spell when you’re not getting a game. It crosses your mind, but I had a long chat with the gaffer, and everybody else, and after that I knew my place was here at Rangers. And obviously it has worked out in my favour.

“He just said that I was a massive part of its plans and that I was doing well. I just had to keep my head down and keep working, and that sort of gave me the belief.

“I have another year on my contract after this. At this moment in time this is where I see myself. I am really, really enjoying it just now, and I’m enjoying everything about it. So I would be more than happy to commit myself.”

His run in the side had been “a long time coming,” according to Hutton. “Obviously, I have had a few hard months up to here. I’m really enjoying my run, I feel as if I’m playing well so hopefully I will keep that going.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“I have been working hard, and all I needed was a wee break and I am getting that wee break now. It was unfortunate for wee Blackie to get injured when he did but that gave me my chance to come in, and with the situation I am in when I have that chance I need to make sure I play well in every game.” 
Next up is today’s away encounter with Annan Athletic on their 3G surface. When Rangers went down to Galabank in September, they returned with a goalless draw that featured David Templeton sustaining the serious ankle injury that kept him out of the team for nearly three months.

Manager McCoist remains convinced that Templeton’s injury was down to the artificial surface, though he will have no hesitation in asking the former Hearts man to play on it again.

McCoist said: “I spoke to the medical boys and they said the surface definitely played a part in his injury. But it’s like falling off a bike and I hope that’s the way for Temps – he’s just got to get back out there and play.” McCoist also has a theory about the surface proving easier to deal with for the more vertically-challenged players. He explained: “Obviously, Temps got a bad injury but in terms of going across the surface, the smaller ones tend to handle it a bit better than the bigger ones. That will probably have a bearing on my selection rather than individual injuries or individual experiences.”

Annan Athletic provided one of the toughest challenges to Rangers during their away form slump early in the season, the home side’s combativeness on the pitch contrasting with the warm welcome off it.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

He said: “We lost the game at Stirling but I watched that game twice and we should have scored about ten. But at Annan we didn’t play and we didn’t create anything like we did against Stirling. Annan was a disappointment but they played well.

“I thought they did well recently at the game at Ibrox but it’s a game we obviously want to do a lot better than we did the last time.”

McCoist conceded that Rangers had to work hard to turn around their away performances. “We now know we can just go away from home, compete and win games. That’s what we had to do. We weren’t doing that at the start.

“It might have been a little bit of a culture shock to one or two of the boys and indeed the staff. But you just need to get over it and get on with it.”