Danny Wilson relishing captain duties and mentoring young prospects

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Danny Wilson was rated one of the hottest prospects in recent Scottish football history when he burst into the Rangers side nearly a decade ago.

His rapid rise led to early international recognition and a transfer to Liverpool which, in hindsight, was the wrong career move but difficult to resist for a teenager with such talent and ambition.

Danny Wilson has come full circle since bursting onto the scene nearly ten years ago. Picture: SNS Group

Danny Wilson has come full circle since bursting onto the scene nearly ten years ago. Picture: SNS Group

David Weir was the mentor who guided Wilson through his formative years and now he has come full circle as he seeks to play his part in the development of two defenders with big potential – Ross McCrorie and David Bates.

The youngsters were outstanding in Rangers’ fine finish to 2017 when they secured a goal-less draw at Celtic Park and may well have won given their impressive second half display.

Wilson was the leader at the back after Bruno Alves was lost to a calf injury after only 10 minutes and, after appearing to be a peripheral figure only a few months ago, he looks like being a mainstay for the rest of this campaign.

Wilson, vying to win a new contract at Ibrox, said: “The performance at Parkhead was satisfying. It was pleasing not to concede a goal, I felt David and I played well together and we complemented each other really well.

Graeme Murty has named Wilson captain for recent matches. Picture: SNS Group

Graeme Murty has named Wilson captain for recent matches. Picture: SNS Group

“I have to give him credit, he was in the same position as me, on the outside looking in.

“But he’s come in and contributed. He’s applied himself so well and when he came on there was never any doubt in my head about what he could give us against Celtic.

“He showed that in his performance.

“He was man of the match at Celtic Park after coming on early. He could have been caught cold but it’s testament to the pro that he is that he slotted in straight away.

David Bates congratulates Wilson, who has taken on the role of mentoring the young defenders at Rangers. Picture: SNS Group

David Bates congratulates Wilson, who has taken on the role of mentoring the young defenders at Rangers. Picture: SNS Group

“I’m delighted for him because he’s a good lad and I get on well with him. Hopefully he can be involved a lot more than he has been.

“I feel a bit of responsibility to help David and Ross because I’ve been in their position before.

“When I think back to when I came into the Rangers team, the last thing I wanted was to be a burden on the team.

“It’s the same for them. You see that in the maturity in their performances. They enhance us as a team rather than hold us back. They’ve done really well.

“Ross has had an extended period in the team and he looks like a player we can’t do without now. That’s how important he’s been.

“And David’s performed well at places like Pittodrie and Parkhead. If he can keep doing that, Rangers will be better for it.

“I don’t want to get carried away with a draw against Celtic. We didn’t win the game.

“We had chances to win it but the flip side is that they could have scored a couple in the first half.

“That might have put a different slant on the game.

“But in the second half it’s the most comfortable we’ve been at Parkhead against Celtic in a long time. We were the ones knocking on the door to win it.

“It gives us a boost going into the second half of the season, going to places like that and dominating.

“On another day it would have been three points and it would have looked even better.”

There were some who felt Wilson’s Rangers days were numbered especially after an indifferent time last season but he has shown tremendous application to become a first pick again under Graeme Murty.

He will surely clinch a new deal in the coming weeks and he admits that skippering the team in the absence of Alves, Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller has been an honour.

Wilson, enjoying the sunshine and heat as Rangers train in Florida, said: “Thankfully I’ve had an upturn in my fortunes and I’ve played in the last 12 games. I’m happy to be involved again and I want to contribute going forward.

“You have to try and be as positive as you can but it can be difficult, there’s no doubt about it.

“When you’re not even included in squads, you start thinking that your time’s up.

“I’ve got another opportunity now and hopefully I’ve done enough to merit staying in the team going forward.

“Ultimately, that’s where I want to be – staying here and playing games.

“The manager never sat me down but when I wasn’t playing I’d go and play for the U20’s when he was in charge of the team.

“What you get with him is a great deal of honesty. I was fortunate that I had to play in his first game against Hearts because he was so short of defenders.

“I’ve tried my best to stay in and I have to thank him for sticking with me.

“We’ve never had a big conversation but he wants his players to take responsibility. All he’s told me to do is make myself difficult to drop.

“I’ve been in and I’m glad to be there.

“I thrive on the responsibility at the back. When I’ve been given the armband, it’s been really enjoyable.

“You never know what might happen in football, nothing’s guaranteed.

“So to say that I’ve led Rangers out – even only once – that will always stay with me. Other players could have been given it but I’m thankful that it was me.”