Emerson Hyndman would be entitled to feel a shiver down his spine at the prospect of making his competitive debut for Rangers in a cup fixture this afternoon.
It’s fair to say that knockout football hasn’t proved to be a fulfilling experience for the American international midfielder so far this season.
Hyndman made just three first-team appearances for Bournemouth in the first half of the campaign, following his move to the Premier League side from Fulham last summer.
Two substitute outings in the English League Cup culminated in the disappointment of a 3-2 extra-time defeat at home to Championship outfit Preston in a third-round tie in September. Then, just two weeks ago, Hyndman’s first starting appearance for Eddie Howe’s team saw him on the wrong end of an upset as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at third-tier Millwall in the third round of the FA Cup.
As he begins his loan spell with Rangers, which is scheduled to run until the end of the season, Hyndman is determined to enjoy better fortune in the Scottish Cup which sees last year’s runners-up open their bid for the silverware this time around with an all-Premiership fourth-round tie against Motherwell at Ibrox this lunchtime.
“Personally, that wouldn’t be good [to lose another cup tie], so I am really motivated to win this one,” said the 20-year-old Texan.“We made a lot of changes to the team at Bournemouth in that game at Millwall and it was a difficult game because a lot of us were not match fit and hadn’t played a lot of games together.
“At the same time, it’s a bit different down in England in terms of how the club view the FA Cup. The Premier League teams sometimes have two or three competitions they are involved in at the same time, so there is a bit of rotation in the cup. For Rangers, I know the Scottish Cup is definitely a priority. It’s something I am looking to win with the club and I’m definitely not here to be knocked out of it at all.
“I hope to gain a lot from the loan experience here. It has been a frustrating first five months for me at Bournemouth but at the same time I recognised what the manager there wanted done in terms of me joining Rangers.
“I’m delighted to be here now. I’m looking to break into the team as soon as I can because I want to help push the team to reach higher things. I want to play as many games as I can and if I do that, I hope it helps Rangers.”
Hyndman got an early taste of action in a Rangers jersey when he played 45 minutes of their 4-0 friendly defeat against RB Leipzig in Germany last Sunday and it was something of an eye-opener for him.
“To see 8,000 Rangers fans in the stadium over there was something else,” he said. “Not many clubs would take that number of fans to Germany for a friendly in the snow. I was quite taken aback by that, it was unbelievable. People told me this was a big club but maybe I didn’t realise how big at first.
“Then there were cameras and media waiting for me at the airport when I arrived to sign. Things began to sink in and then seeing so many fans in Germany really brought it home. You can’t really appreciate how big the club is until you actually live it.
“It feels kind of like a new beginning for me. I just want to relish the time that I have here and really make the most of it. I want to hit the ground running for Rangers, that is what I am striving for. Any time you go to a new team, you want to make an impact, even in training. As soon as you step on the pitch you want to earn the respect of the people you are with.
“I feel comfortable here now, I have spent a week and a half and I feel ready to make an impact. That Leipzig game was good for me, not just to show the fans, but to play with the team in a game helps a lot. It was a difficult game in many respects but we took a lot of positive things from it. Leipzig were a good side. They played at a high level together and I guess that’s why they are competing with Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title. But we realised there are things for us to work on. It was a positive experience despite the result.”