David Bates is ready to fight for his place while also seeking to land a new Rangers contract having been given a new lease of life under Graeme Murty.
It is expected that Russell Martin will arrive this week on a loan deal from Norwich City which will put Bates’ place in the team under threat.
However, the 21-year-old, who has played four times under Murty having been largely overlooked by Pedro Caixinha, is ready to prove he is good enough to stay in.
Bates said: “I just need to keep trying my hardest and play as well as I can. I just want to stay in the team. If anyone else comes in then I just need to keep playing well and hopefully the gaffer will stay with me.
“It is just good to be back in the team. I was out for ten weeks at the start of the season. It was hard to get back in but the gaffer has come in and brought the whole squad to life, especially me.
“I am just trying to play to my best and to make it difficult for him to drop me.
“He tells me he trusts me to go out and do a good job. It gives me a lot of confidence when he says things like that.”
Bates is out of contract at the end of the season and he would love to clinch a new deal this month. He said: “Of course I want to be here. I have supported Rangers since I was young. When I first came it was a dream and hopefully I can stay involved as long as I can.
“I want to play here and we will see what happens. There haven’t been any developments on that front. I just need to keep playing my football and these things will take care of themselves.”
The Kirkcaldy-born centre-back was in good form in the Florida Cup where Rangers won their section with wins over Brazilian sides Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians, having also utilised the excellent training facilities at the IMG Academy.
Rangers were particularly impressive in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Corinthians, who were crowned Brazilian champions only two months ago.
Bates feels it has been the ideal preparation for the second half of the campaign, with new boys Jamie Murphy and Sean Goss plus returning stars Michael O’Halloran and Andy Halliday enhancing the squad. He said: “The entire trip has been very good and the facilities have been brilliant. It sets us up for a big second half of the season ahead.
“The first few days in training the manager gave us an idea of how he wants us to play and to set up.
“You can see that in the games we played, he wants us to keep the ball and play out from the back. He has put a real good stamp on things.
“We got involved in a few activities. We went to the ice hockey. We might not think it but it does bond us and bring us closer together. When we go out on the pitch we are a bit more resilient.
“Sean has come in, Andy, Mikey and Jamie have all come in. The squad has fresh legs in it now. You can see Sean’s left foot it is brilliant. They can all be key members of our squad.
“Sean plays out very well. The gaffer wants us to play out from the back and Sean is really good for that. He could have a big season ahead.”
Bates played a key role in Rangers’ last competitive match when they drew at Celtic Park on 30 December which has given the squad fresh belief as they prepare to swap Florida for Fraserburgh on Sunday in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.
He said: “The winter break maybe came at the wrong time but you can see from the games in Florida that the confidence is still high throughout the team and hopefully we can kick on.
“We want to go as far as we can in the cup. They will be right up for it because it will be like a cup final for them. We just need to play our best and if we do that we should win.”