Rangers defender vows to stay and fight for his place after one-on-one talk with Philippe Clement

Youngster plans to take his chance when it comes at Ibrox

It was only last week that Leon King left his teenage years. The Rangers centre-back had no intentions of leaving his boyhood on loan this month too, though.

The possibility had been floated owing to the 20-year-old’s progress – hindered by injury problems – having ground to a halt in the past year. Invaluable, but challenging, Champions League experience gained under Giovanni van Bronckhorst giving way to King dropping out of the picture during the ill-starred Michael Beale era that followed. But Philippe Clement has returned the still callow performer to fold and provided him with the reassurance required when it came to his one-on-one conversation with the Belgian, which the 49-year-old held with every member of his squad during the club’s recent winter training camp in La Manga, Spain.

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“Obviously it’s difficult when a new manager comes in because you don’t know what to expect,” said King. “You don’t know if you’ll still be here, you don’t know what the script is really. But he was really good with me. He was open, he was honest and he told me he wants me to stay and fight for my place.”

Rangers' Leon King in action during a friendly match against FC Copenhagen.Rangers' Leon King in action during a friendly match against FC Copenhagen.
Rangers' Leon King in action during a friendly match against FC Copenhagen.

The defender could be assured these were not empty words after Clement gave him brief run-outs in three games before Christmas – the combined nine minutes across these encounters his only senior involvement since May. They are start, though. Or a restart for an academy product who made his first-team debut aged only 16, and featured at right-back in the recent friendly with Hertha Berlin, and has played in midfield for the Rangers B team, as he embraces showing versatility.

“Last year was difficult as I had quite a lengthy time not playing games,” he said. “So it was really nice to get back out there playing in front of the fans at Ibrox. Now I just need to repay that faith the manager has shown in me by putting me back in the squad. To be honest, no [I never thought about leaving]. I’ve just been concentrating on myself and bettering myself in training. The manager is big on the boys who aren’t playing pushing the boys who are in training.

“I feel as though we’re a lot closer now in terms of the boys who come into the team compared to those starting. I’m just really enjoying myself at the moment and long may that continue. It’s just about how you adapt in these situations. Sometimes you will play, sometimes you won’t. It’s about taking your chances when they come.”

Leon King was supporting the Topps Match Attax Launch of the 2024 SPFL collection at Hampden Park. The 354 card collection is available now in stores across Scotland and at Topps.com #matchattax #spfl #scottishfootball