The 21-year-old’s midfield promptings alongside Sean Goss have given Rangers a forward propulsion that, alongside the displays of Jamie Murphy and the goals of Josh Windass and Alfredo Morelos, have made Murty’s men look like trophy contenders. These ambitions will go on the line in their next two outings. Sunday brings a Scottish Cup quarter-final at home to Falkirk, while a week later they will host league leaders Celtic, who are now only six points ahead of them.
Murphy could be unavailable for both after sustaining a foot injury in the 4-1 victory away to St Johnstone but in deep-lying central pair Docherty and Goss, Rangers have an engine that appears to be purring. Docherty doesn’t deny the sense from within that silverware could be in their sights.
“I think momentum is a big thing and we are gathering that,” he said. “If we can take this into every game then fantastic. We just need to keep building and it is great for us to bounce back after the Hibs disappointment with five wins. That is big for us. You could see on Saturday [against Hearts] and the first half on Tuesday how comfortable we were. No disrespect, but we didn’t feel under pressure. St Johnstone had a few free-kicks but every attack we go on I feel we are going to score and that is big. I think everybody feels the same, that every shot is going to go in for us. I think the crowd anticipate it as well and can sense it and that spurs us on. We just love scoring goals.”
Docherty is loving life operating alongside Goss, the former Manchester United midfielder who joined Rangers on loan from QPR in January.
“Sean is a naturally great footballer and very technically gifted,” said the amiable former Hamilton player, who considers having such a pivotal role in a Rangers renaissance as “huge”, “strange” and “still a bit weird to me”.
“I am learning from Sean as well and I think we work off each other. I will maybe do a bit more of the work and then give him the ball. You see some of his passes, like the one for the penalty the other night, it is sensational and he cut St Johnstone right open. I am loving playing with him and he is a great guy as well. He is a similar age to me so we are enjoying it at the moment and just want to keep on winning.
“We clicked straight away on a personal level and off the park he is one of the guys I am closest to in the dressing room. I am tight with everyone in the dressing room and it has been very welcoming for me. I am happy and I just want to keep on playing.”
Docherty has had to adapt his box-to-box game. His manager expressed the belief the youngster was trying to cover too much ground as Rangers were defensively loose in the 5-3 win at his old club Hamilton last month.
“It is just about being more disciplined,” Docherty said. “At Hamilton there was an extra midfielder so I had a more free role. At Rangers, you need to be a bit more disciplined and I am enjoying it. I have two assists in two games and that is what I like to do, make assists and get in the box and hit shots. I am still getting up there and that is where I want to be, at that end of the pitch.
“I want to add goals to my game but first I am looking for consistency in my performance. If I am getting assists, then that is a goal for me. I love getting assists for players and I get a real buzz from it. If I am contributing, that is fine.”
The Rangers manager last week tipped Docherty wto become part of Alex McLeish’s Scotland era on the back of Scott Brown’s international retirement. The player has more modest immediate aims when it comes to representing his country.
“I don’t know and I am not thinking about that at the moment to be honest. If it comes it comes. My aim is to get in the Under-21s team. I didn’t play the last couple of games there so I would like to be involved more. It has always been a dream to get to the A squad but I am taking each game as it comes with Rangers.”
It is Murphy who Docherty feels has the indisputable claim to a place in the Scotland squad for the friendly double-header that will bring games Costa Rica and Hungary next month – providing the foot injury that forced him off in Perth does not threaten his availability.
“Jamie has been huge for us and he has helped me settle in well,” Docherty said. “He is a big player and he has his own aspirations to get in the Scotland squad. I don’t see how he can’t on that performance. He is the best wide man in the league in my opinion and he has really shown that in the last few games. Obviously we hope his injury nothing serious and we get him back for the weekend. He was already changed when I came in to the changing room but he looked in good spirits so I am hoping it is nothing serious and just precautionary.”