Ryan Jack looks to Scotland high note after bout of blues

Rangers' Ryan Jack is shown a late red card in the 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock.
Rangers' Ryan Jack is shown a late red card in the 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock.
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Three red cards, two of them rescinded, one sacked manager. It all adds up to what has been a tumultuous first four months as a Rangers player for Ryan Jack.

The midfielder’s fitful season is set to take another unusual turn tomorrow night when he is expected to be deployed at right-back by Scotland interim manager Malky Mackay against Netherlands at Pittodrie.

It’s an old role Jack is happy to reprise in order to make his senior debut for his country, having filled it regularly during his 19-cap career with the under-21 side.

The 25-year-old is simply eager to embrace a personal highlight of a torrid campaign which saw him unwittingly become a central figure in the events which prompted Rangers to sack Pedro Caixinha, the manager who signed him from Aberdeen in the summer.

Jack’s dismissal against Kilmarnock at Ibrox two weeks ago, for an off-the-ball clash with Kirk Broadfoot, proved fateful for Caixinha, pictured. Rangers, leading 1-0 at the time, missed the penalty kick which had been awarded just before Jack was sent off. He then sat dejectedly in the dressing room, unaware that Kilmarnock had gone up the pitch to equalise in stoppage time – the tipping point for the Rangers board who called time on Caixinha’s tenure the following day.

“I don’t think anyone realise how much something like that affects you as a football player,” said Jack.

“It is all about what you do on the pitch and so you’ve got to take the criticism when it comes in the aftermath. Everyone is going to have an opinion on the game and my sending off, although it got rescinded afterwards.

“It was a difficult night, of course it was. It was one of those nights when I went back home and lay on my bed without getting any sleep because you can’t quite believe what happened. It’s about having the right people around you and moving on.

”When I got back into the dressing room after being sent off, I felt frustration and disappointment that I allowed things to boil over, which meant I put myself in that position to make the referee make a decision.

“Of course, I was in the changing room ,so didn’t know what was happening on the park. We were 1-0 up and had a penalty so I thought that was the game done.

“A few of the boys then came in looking disappointed and it was then I knew we had drawn the game. So, it made the night even worse.

“There’s no denying it’s been eventful for me at Rangers so far, especially with the change of manager. It’s never nice to see anyone lose their job and Pedro was the man who brought me to the club.

“But that’s football and now it’s just about looking forward. The last two results have been excellent, so we want to keep on building on that. It was tough for Pedro but there was no hiding from the fact that the results weren’t good enough for where we wanted to be and, as players, we had to hold our hands up and admit that maybe we hadn’t been good enough.

“Obviously, that all falls on the manager’s head at the end of the day, but it’s happened now and we just have to move on.”

While Jack was successful in appealing against two of his red cards, he admits he is taking steps to improve his self-control in the demanding environment of playing for Rangers.

“It’s happened, I’m trying to deal with that side of it, to deal with things better, and I’m going to move on now,” he added. “Hopefully, all that is in the past, I can keep my discipline from now on and move forward. Was it frustration? It boils down to a few things, but frustration was one of the biggest reasons. Things weren’t going too well, it was a difficult time, we weren’t getting results, and everything then looks a wee bit worse than it actually is.

“But, for me, I need to put that behind me. I’ve stayed on the pitch for the last two games so that’s been a bonus!”

Jack, whose only previous experience with the full Scotland squad was as an unused substitute against Croatia in the summer of 2013, is determined to make the most of the opportunity handed to him by Mackay this week.

“Any time you’re asked to play for your country at any level it’s a great honour,” said. “It maybe came as a bit of a surprise to be in this squad but I’m delighted to be here and, hopefully, I can show what I can do.

“Playing at right-back won’t faze me. I played there for Scotland Under-21s and I also had a few club games in that position. You would play anywhere just to pull on that jersey for your country.

“I didn’t move into midfield until Derek McInnes came to Aberdeen. When a new manager comes to a club he has meetings with the players to tell them what he expects and he told me that he’d watched me in training and believed that I should play in the middle, although he’d use me at right-back if he needed me.

“Coming through the youth ranks you play everywhere and sometimes I even played at centre-half. It was Craig Brown who used me more as a full-back at Aberdeen but Derek McInnes changed all that.

“That was down to the way he wanted to set the team up – other managers may have seen it differently. I’m always open-minded about these things, as long as I get the chance to play. You just do your best. When you’re young you’ll play wherever you’re told to play and I just decided to work as hard as I could to learn how to be a central midfielder.”