From bit-part Rangers player to key performer: Giovanni van Bronckhorst's mind appears to have changed

In the early stages of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s tenure as Rangers manager, it seemed as if John Lundstram was destined for a role as a bit-part player for the Scottish champions.

Rangers midfielder John Lundstram has earned praise from manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst for his performances in the wins over Hearts and Hibs. (Photo by Steve  Welsh/Getty Images,)
Rangers midfielder John Lundstram has earned praise from manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst for his performances in the wins over Hearts and Hibs. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images,)

After his last two performances in the back-to-back home wins over Hearts and Hibs, the English midfielder has suddenly emerged as a key component of the side van Bronckhorst hopes can overhaul Celtic to retain the Premiership title.

Lundstram’s previously peripheral status under the Dutch coach meant he was not personally tarred with the brush of opprobrium applied to Rangers in the wake of their calamitous display in losing the Old Firm clash 3-0 at Parkhead last week.

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The 27-year-old was an unused substitute on that occasion but has seized his opportunity in impressive form since being promoted to the starting line-up, delivering two influential and assured displays in the 5-0 and 2-0 victories against the Edinburgh clubs which have kept Rangers just a point behind Celtic at the top of the table.

In an area of the pitch where van Bronckhorst is not short of options, with Glen Kamara, Ryan Jack, Steven Davis and James Sands all contenders for a holding midfield position, Lundstram has laid down a strong claim for more regular game time for the rest of the season.

“He has done really well,” agreed van Bronckhorst. “I am really happy for John because it is not easy to not be playing and be on the bench.

“Every player wants to play but the response he had and the performances he had in the last two games, for me that is what you want if you need a player and you put him in to perform.

“The competition is really hard at the moment because we have got many players available now, not only in midfield but up front. That is good for me.

“But we just have to continue and everyone who is in the team, the first eleven who starts, they have to be ready. That is what you want as a coach.”

Van Bronckhorst is gratified by the overall response from his squad to the Old Firm setback as they now switch their attention away from their title defence for a spell with a Scottish Cup trip to Annan Athletic on Saturday and then the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off tie against Borussia Dortmund in Germany next Thursday.

“Of course the disappointments will happen in the season and the way you react to those moments is very vital for the future,” added Van Bronckhorst.

“I think we did really well. It was a big loss we had against Celtic last Wednesday but the reaction after that was good, especially in our character, our intensity, as well as the way of playing.

“I am really pleased with the response and now it is for us to keep going. The cup competition will begin again, we are going to play in Europe next week and then the league season starts again.

“I think we are in a good place and everyone is pushing each other to keep putting in the performances that we did last Sunday and on Wednesday night. I really enjoyed it and now we have to prepare for Saturday.”

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