If there was one sliver of light for Rangers amid the gloom of their 5-1 defeat at Celtic Park last Saturday, it was the performance of Josh Windass.
On his Premiership debut for the Ibrox club, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder was certainly the only member of Mark Warburton’s side who emerged from the afternoon with his reputation enhanced.
Windass is also in a minority of one among those connected with Rangers in that he found himself able to savour such a bruising outcome for his team.
“After the game, I just wanted to play it again the day after,” he reflected. “I loved every minute of it. I know we lost the game, but I just loved every minute of the experience.
“As a footballer, you want to play in those games. It was the best experience of my life so far. We got beat and that was horrible, but I can’t wait for the next Old Firm game and the one after that.”
Windass delivered an assured and confident display on the biggest stage Scottish football can offer, indicating that he could quickly become a key player for Rangers this season.
The former Accrington Stanley man has no doubts he can make a seamless step from the fourth tier of English football to the top flight of the Scottish game.
“I’ve always believed in myself,” added Windass. “Last year at Accrington I believed I was the best player in League Two down in England.
“People might say it’s big-headed, but that’s just how I am. I believe that if I play to my best then I can play in the Rangers midfield. It shouldn’t be a problem.
“It’s a game of football at the end of the day. I play the way I’ve always played and it doesn’t matter if it’s in the street or at Celtic Park. It’s 11 v 11 and it’s a game of football. I don’t treat it any differently.”
Windass has clearly inherited a sense of self-assurance from his father Dean, the former Aberdeen and Hull City player.
In the wake of the Old Firm match, Windass senior stated that Rangers should build their team around his son and also claimed the noise at Celtic Park had forced him to take headache tablets afterwards.
“That’s just him exaggerating,” said Windass junior with a rueful grin. “Yes, I had to take a couple of tablets but it was nothing to do with the noise.
“I don’t know where he is coming from with that.
“I’ve told him a million times not to speak, but he can say what he wants – it’s up to him. Listen, he’s not going to say I should be on the bench for Rangers, is he?”
Windass is expected to retain his place in the Rangers starting line-up this afternoon as they look to re-ignite their league campaign against Ross County at Ibrox.
“Everyone was a bit down initially after last week’s result but the boys have managed to pick themselves up in training,” he said.
“We’ve got another game on Saturday and we are ready to go. It was a bad defeat last week, we recognise that. But because we lost to Celtic, it’s made out to be a lot worse than it actually is.
“We are only five games into the season, there are a lot of new players at the club and there’s a long way to go. You never know what can happen in this league and obviously Celtic could still drop points.
“I heard Kenny Miller say that Rangers had once won the league when they were seven points behind with five games left. We’ve still got over 30 games left, so to say we are out of the title race is a ridiculous statement.
“I know the expectations here are much greater than at most clubs. Even in the first league game of the season against Hamilton, when I was out injured, I sensed the pressure from the stands when we only drew.
“We then got another draw at Kilmarnock and got slaughtered. That’s a good thing, though, because it pushes you on and makes you want to get better.
“It was totally different for me at Accrington. We had the lowest budget in League Two and no-one expected us to win every game. Here at Rangers, you could be 2-0 up at half-time and still get booed off if you are not playing well.
“But the fans are good when you are winning. You have to keep winning to keep them happy. I’m sure if we play the way we can then we’ll get a result against Ross County.”