James Tavernier lauds Kenny Miller as inspiration

When James Tavernier netted Rangers’ sixth and final goal of a rewarding afternoon, all eyes were on the defender, who was receiving the congratulations of most of his colleagues after a superb performance when his deserved goal was the icing on the cake after three top quality assists.

When James Tavernier netted Rangers’ sixth and final goal of a rewarding afternoon, all eyes were on the defender, who was receiving the congratulations of most of his colleagues after a superb performance when his deserved goal was the icing on the cake after three top quality assists.

But more pertinent was the reaction of his fellow full-back and Rangers captain Lee Wallace. With just two minutes to go, he was sprinting to retrieve the ball from the touchline and racing to place it on the centre spot to restart the game.

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While Dumbarton players were understandably less than keen to do this after the battering they had received from a Rangers side who had just recorded their biggest win of the season, it gave an indication as to the determination of the Ibrox side to ramp it up as the season progresses.

Kenny Miller rolled back the years at the age of 36 to grab a hat-trick and Tavernier, Andy Halliday and Martyn Waghorn completed the rout in a game that resembled an attack versus defence training-ground exercise.

The former Scotland striker recently signed a one-year deal at Ibrox and justified the value of that with his display. Tavernier believes there are plenty of similarities between Miller and former Manchester United and England star Alan Smith, who is still playing for Notts County at the age of 35.

Tavernier said: “Kenny has been a great player for us to look up to. His attitude has been fantastic from the beginning of the season. He sets an example and shows everyone how it’s meant to be done and it paid off for him at Dumbarton. His positioning was perfect for the goals.

“Kenny’s got great discipline on and off the park. He’s always first out at training and in the team meetings early. He just does thing professionally. Everyone looks up to him and that’s the way it has to be.

“It doesn’t matter that he’s 36 or achieved so much in the game, he’s still setting an example. It’s great for us to look up to him. He never has an off-day in training – he’s always giving 100 per cent. When we see that, we know that standard we need to meet. It’s great to have a figure like that in the team. He really deserved his contract extension and I just hope he can get more goals.

“When I was at MK Dons I played with Alan Smith and you learn a lot from guys like that, no matter how high they’ve played.

“It was a great experience playing with Alan and it’s the same with Kenny. I was a season ticket holder at Leeds United and watched Alan Smith as a kid. Then he went to Manchester United and Newcastle United. He had the same head – always wanted to win and be No 1 in training. That is the kind of mentality you want – never accepting defeat and work hard every day to push yourself to the limit.

“Alan Smith had that and Kenny Miller has got that as well. That’s the reason they are both playing now because they both have the hunger and desire to be the best and try and do well for the team.”

Tavernier explained Wallace’s determination to grind Dumbarton into the ground and warned their Championship opponents they are ready to kick on. He said: “It was a good performance and we have to be relentless when we play and try and score as many as we possibly can. It doesn’t matter what time it is in the game. If we’re 2-0 up we want to score more goals and it’s the same if we’re 5-0 up.”