Jason Holt knows a familiar and friendly face could pose the biggest threat to Rangers’ hopes of building the winning momentum they crave in the Premiership tonight.
Billy King, a former team-mate and close pal of Holt’s at Hearts, spent the second half of last season on loan at the Ibrox club and is now enjoying a season-long temporary stint at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
A stunning goal against Celtic in a 2-2 draw at the Caledonian Stadium last month – the only occasion when the Scottish champions have dropped points so far this season – illustrated the kind of damage winger King is capable of inflicting.
With Inverness unbeaten in their last five league matches, Rangers midfielder Holt is aware of the difficulties he and his team-mates face as they seek progress towards the top end of the Premiership table.
“All of the boys who were here last season when Billy was with us know what he can bring,” said Holt. “He is a threat and we will need to be wary. But we won’t be looking at individual players, we will be looking at the team in general.
“I have spoken to him a few times since he moved to Inverness. I have sent him texts after the games he has scored in, just saying ‘well done’. I am sure I will get a wee chat with him on Friday night.
“Having played with him at Hearts, I know there is no doubt about his ability. I was a year above Billy in the youth set-up at Hearts, but we ended up playing in the same under-19 team and then through to the first team together. So we have always been close.
“We need to watch and be aware of him. He is playing regular first team football now, which is obviously good for him.
“It’s going to be a difficult game for us, Inverness is never an easy place to go. Every game I’ve experienced up there in my career has been tough and Friday night will be no different.
“We will need to be at it from the first whistle but we are going there with a bit of confidence. We are coming off the back of a good win against Partick Thistle before the international break and we want to keep that momentum going ahead of the League Cup semi-final against Celtic next week.”
Holt was sidelined for over a month with an ankle injury but has started Rangers last four games, earning praise from manager Mark Warburton, pictured, for the energy he has brought to the team’s performance levels.
“It’s always nice to hear any positive comments from the manager,” added the 23-year-old. “It’s never great being out injured and it’s frustrating watching from the sidelines. As soon as I got back into training, I just had to impress the manager and get myself back in the team. Thankfully, I have done that.
“Having those energy levels has always just been part of my game, I just work extremely hard for the team. If that helps the team, then great. It is just part of my game.
“We had a few days off last week due to the international break, but we have been back in this week training as normal. It is good to get recovery days because we have been working hard in the games and in training. We earned the days off.
“I think the players sense things are coming together for us on the pitch now. Even before the Partick game, there were games which we didn’t win, but where the performances were actually quite good. When you flip that, we won the game against Partick without playing particularly well. So it is about getting the right balance. Hopefully that comes on Friday night.
“It is between getting a good level of performance and getting the three points. Ultimately, at the end of the day, three points is what you want. Any game you win is welcome, but we will try to do it in a certain manner.”
In the absence of the banished Joey Barton, Holt has formed a three-man midfield with Andy Halliday and Niko Kranjcar in recent weeks. He is full of admiration for former Croatian international Kranjcar who scored in the 2-0 win over Partick Thistle last time out.
“I really enjoy playing with Niko,” said Holt. “Everybody knows he is a top player with the clubs he has been at. You are always learning stuff when you train with him day in, day out. To play with him is great as well. He brings a lot to the side. I was delighted at him getting a goal against Partick and hopefully there will be many more to come.”