Rangers return appeals to Steven Naismith

Scotland international Steven Naismith teamed up with Glasgow charity Loaves and Fishes, an organisation that helps the city's homeless and operates a food bank. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
Scotland international Steven Naismith teamed up with Glasgow charity Loaves and Fishes, an organisation that helps the city's homeless and operates a food bank. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
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Steven Naismith became something of a hate figure for a section of the Rangers support when he refused to transfer his contract over to Charles Green’s new club in the summer of 2012.

The Scotland striker was concerned about the implications starting again in the Third Division would have on his international prospects and elected to sign for Everton instead, joining an exodus which included Steven Whittaker (Norwich City), Steve Davis (Southampton, Allan McGregor (Besiktas), Kyle Lafferty (Sion) and Sone Aluko (Hull City).

Times have changed, though, and Naismith now not only regrets the manner of his departure from Ibrox but would welcome a return, for pretty much the same reasons that he left in the first place.

Now with Norwich City, he has been inactive for four months after team-mate Grant Hanley fell on him at training, causing ankle ligament damage. He has now fully recovered and gained much-needed game time with the Championship club’s under-20 side.

However, Naismith fears he may not be part of German manager Daniel Farke’s plans at Carrow Road and, should that prove to be the case, then a move to the Scottish Premiership, possibly on loan initially, could prove beneficial to both parties.

“I wouldn’t say I have unfinished business with Rangers because we were successful and won a lot of trophies when I was there,” he claimed.

“Unfortunately, the way I left wasn’t great. I still watch all their games on TV and still speak to all the players and staff I know at the club.

“I love hearing how things are going. I still support Rangers and I want them to do well.

“Moving forward, coming back to Scotland there would be clubs I’d prefer to play with. Fortunately, when I come back to Scotland it’s not going to be about finances.

“It’ll be about what I think is the right fit for me. That’ll be the main thing.

“First of all, you need people at the clubs to want you and you need to see what options are available.

“A return to Rangers would appeal. I’ve spoken in the past about Kilmarnock and Rangers and being appreciative for what they did for me as a player.

“I would look at those clubs and see if they were options to start with.”

Naismith already knows caretaker manager Graeme Murty, pictured, who was in charge of Norwich’s under-18 squad before his own move to Rangers last year.

“It’s hard for Murts,” he said. ”He was at Norwich before so I’ve had some dealings with him and he’s a great coach. It’s a very difficult situation for him.

“He’s done well in terms of dealing with it all but it’s hard for everyone involved. Rangers need to make the right appointment and, when that time is right, they will make it.

“That’s all they can do – it’s not for me to say he should get it until the end of the season. The club just needs to move forward, whether that’s with him in charge or if they find a suitable candidate to take over.”

It’s almost eight weeks now since Pedro Caixinha was sacked by Rangers but the turmoil behind the scenes at Ibrox (highlighted by the debacle of the failed approach to Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes) would not be a deterrent for Naismith.

“The biggest things for me going to any club would be: ‘Will I play, will I bring something to the club and can I help the youngsters who are there?’

“It’s more what I can bring to the club, if it’s the right fit and whether I believe in what they’re going forwards with. I think I could go anywhere and make a difference; I’m passionate about passing on the knowledge that I have because I was grateful when I was younger and older guys would give me the time of day.”

Naismith is also fired by the desire to be included in the SFA’s Hall of Fame. He’s been stuck on 45 appearances since he replaced Leigh Griffiths during the 1-0 victory over Slovenia in March and he is determined to rack up his half century. “I definitely still want to play for Scotland; I think I can still offer something,” he said.

“Although we have a lot of quality players, I feel that I can do a job in games that are tight.

“Any time I’ve played, I feel that I’ve contributed something. Getting close to 50 
caps is another thing that 
is driving me forward. It’s something I’d never have expected to get when I was younger and I’d like to achieve that.”

l Steven Naismith was promoting Loaves & Fishes, a charity working in Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire to provide meals, food parcels, clothes and toiletries for those in need. Starting as a soup kitchen more than 20 years ago, it is now based at Renfield St Stephen’s Church in Glasgow and has a food bank in East Kilbride.