James Tavernier offers to solve selection dilemma with striker stint for Rangers

Andy Newport, PA
·3 min read

James Tavernier has jokingly offered to play up front if it helps Steven Gerrard solve his dilemma when it comes to fitting both the Rangers captain and young gun Nathan Patterson into his team.

Assistant boss Gary McAllister said earlier this week that Gerrard might look to accommodate both defenders in the same line-up in future as Patterson continues to emerge as a huge talent.

Now Tavernier hopes that means he gets a chance to lead the Rangers attack.

The skipper – who made his return from a two-month injury lay-off against St Johnstone on Wednesday night – has already shown he is deadly in front of goal having netted 17 goals this term from his slot at the back.

He has previous experience of playing in a more attacking role after Mark Warburton utilised the Englishman as a right winger in a Betfred Cup semi-final clash with Celtic back in 2016.

Tavernier therefore hopes to persuade his manager to let him loose in the final third more often.

“I’ve always wanted to play up front!” said the 29-year-old, who agreed a new three-year deal earlier this month. “I keep on saying to the gaffer when we’re doing shooting drills that I’ll play up front.

“Nathan’s been a credit to himself. He’s been working extremely hard.

“I’ve been very proud to see the progress he’s been developing with this season. I’ve already said he can go all the way.

“But going forward, that’s obviously the gaffer’s decision if he wants to include us both – but I’ll definitely be available to play up front.”

Tavernier missed Gers’ charge for the Scottish Premiership title after injuring his knee against Royal Antwerp in February.

But that did not stop him joining in the wild celebrations last month as Celtic’s grip on power was finally released.

And Tavernier – who suffered Scottish Cup final heartache against Hibernian back in 2016 – is hoping to double up on that title win as Rangers prepare for Sunday’s quarter-final clash with Saints.

“It feels good to be back – really good,” he said. “It was a frustrating time. I’ve not been out that long since I was maybe 18.

“I’ve worked extremely hard to get back and shown that bit of patience along the way.

“No, it wasn’t hard to be injured when we were crowned champions. I was absolutely delighted for the boys, the club, the fans. It’s been a long season and it was obviously a day when we were all together (at the training ground).

“I was more than happy to be injured and celebrating with the boys because I’ve obviously played a part in this.

“We were disappointed when we got knocked out earlier in the season in the League Cup and it is something we don’t want to repeat.

“We showed a good performance against Celtic in the last round and you saw the hunger and desire in this team to try and go all the way and win this trophy.

“Nothing changes, we are Rangers Football Club and we are always going to try and win trophies.”