Michael O’Halloran will step into the home dressing room as a Rangers player for the first time today as he prepares to make his Ibrox bow for the Championship leaders.
But it is not a completely new environment for the former St Johnstone forward, who has happy memories of the one previous match for which he was based there.
“When Saints played Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Ibrox a couple of years ago, we were drawn as the home team,” he recalled. “So I’ve been in the home dressing room before and it was brilliant. We beat Aberdeen 2-1 that day and went on to win the cup that year.”
O’Halloran has had to wait for his home debut for Rangers following his deadline-day £500,000 move from Saints four weeks ago.
His three appearances so far for his new club have been away from home, while he missed out on the Scottish Cup game against Kilmarnock as he is cup-tied.
O’Halloran has, of course, already played at Ibrox this season when he helped St Johnstone defeat Rangers 3-1 in the League Cup back in September.
“That was a good night for Saints and we got our tactics spot on,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to pulling on the Rangers shirt at Ibrox now.
“It will be totally different to the away games I’ve played so far since my move at Raith, Alloa and Queen of the South. It’s obviously going to be different playing in front of 45,000 or so at Ibrox than it was playing in front of around 3,000 fans at St Johnstone’s home games. But I have played in front of big crowds before and it will be good to do it on a more regular basis now.”
O’Halloran says he has settled in quickly at Rangers, although it appears his new team-mates are missing out on an unusual party piece.
“I was expecting to have to sing a song as a new player,” he said. “I’ve had to do that before at other clubs I’ve joined, but they’ve not made me do anything as yet. I usually do Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn. It’s a bit of an epic, but I think I’m good at it. I don’t know if others would agree! Maybe I’ve got away with it here, although maybe not now that I’ve told you guys about it!”
The knee injury suffered by top scorer Martyn Waghorn has placed the onus on the other attacking players at Rangers to fill the void left by the 28-goal striker. O’Halloran is relishing the challenge in the closing months of the season and believes he can thrive in manager Mark Warburton’s 4-3-3 system.
“It definitely suits me,” he said. “I’m an attacking player and although I will defend when I need to, my focus is on going forward. We create a lot of chances here and I want to chip in and score as well as create. We’ve won the last few games by the odd goal but, before that, everyone was chipping in with goals. We just need to continue what we’ve been doing, creating chances and we will score. I don’t think that is any different just because Martyn is injured.
“We play with three forwards and there is rotation in the selection. I’ll work hard to get in the team and make a contribution.”
Rangers’ title prospects were enhanced by nearest rivals Hibs’ surprise 3-0 home defeat by Morton on Wednesday night, leaving an eight-point gap between the teams at the top of the table.
O’Halloran insists that will not alter Rangers’ approach as they face St Mirren at Ibrox today.
“We had a wee glance at the Hibs result,” he said. “But it’s all about us now and our main focus is to keep winning our own games and pushing for the title. We’re not really interested in what is going on elsewhere.”
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