Ryan Jack feels working with two of the greatest exponents of midfield play in modern times can make him a Rangers star and consign to history a difficult beginning to his Ibrox career.
The former Aberdeen star had a tough first season as he missed half of it with injury after a rash challenge by Motherwell’s Cedric Kipre and was sent off four times – although two red cards were rescinded.
He showed in flashes what he can bring but now that he is fully fit and working with Steven Gerrard and Gary McAllister Jack feels he can really kick on.
Gerrard gave him glowing praise for his substitute appearance against Shkupi last Thursday which was music to the ears of the 26-year-old as Rangers prepare to fly out today to Macedonia protecting a two-goal lead.
Jack said: “When you get injured and you’re out for six months it’s frustrating and tough, but I’ve worked as hard as I can to get back for pre-season and I’ve worked as hard as I can in pre-season itself.
“I feel as fit as ever, and the only thing I’m missing is the football, the minutes. Hopefully that will come.
“It’s been a bit up and down for me since I’ve been here. After my injury, it was a case of getting back fit and getting that fresh start.
“Last Thursday night was the start of it. Two goals, a clean sheet, first win together as a squad and staff.
“He’s been great but also Gary McAllister. He has been brilliant with all the midfielders, the whole squad as well. He’s brought a real freshness to it. He’s always enthusiastic and he’s got great ideas.
“The work we’ve done off the ball, on the ball and tactically, I’m only going to get better as a player.
“You’re always getting tested every day in training. Your character and your mentality. I definitely think we’ve got the squad and the players to handle any situation that’s thrown at us.”
Gerrard insists Josh Windass can win over his critics as Rangers aim to complete the job against Shkupi on Tuesday night,
Windass suffered some abuse last Thursday night after missing a hatful of chances as Rangers eventually squeezed a 2-0 win over the Macedonians in the first leg of their first-round tie thanks to James Tavernier’s last-gasp penalty.
He is a player who seems to divide the Ibrox support as he can be brilliant one minute and not at the races the next but Gerrard feels he can be a key component in his Rangers revolution.
Gerrard said: “I felt the reaction when he came off. Josh will deal with that, he’s a strong lad and the only way to win fans over is to score goals. We all know what’s going to come. That’s what you sign up to.
“I thought he worked his socks off and could easily have come off the pitch with a couple of goals.
“I am confident we can go there and score. We don’t have to do that in the first two minutes so we won’t be going gung-ho.
“They are the ones who have to make the decision whether to play differently from last Thursday.”