What James Tavernier needs to do to cement his place as a Rangers legend

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The Englishman was inducted into the Hall of Fame in February last year alongside Allan McGregor and Steven Davis and has since continued to add to his stunning record of goals and assists.

Tavernier scored 117 goals and assisted 123 times during 435 appearances in Light Blue and his figures are all the more remarkable considering his position as a right-back.

Another man to play on the right of defense for Rangers was Alan Hutton and he also enjoyed a hugely successful spell in Govan.

However, the former Scotland international is surprised by Tavernier’s statistics, but he does feel that the captain is sometimes not appreciated.

He explained: “It’s mental. I think I’ve scored five goals in my career, he’s scored 118 for Rangers. He gets criticized for his defense, I think it has gotten better over the years.

“What he gives you in the future is incredible. Modern full-backs get caught up in the field because you ask them to do something different.

“You’re asking them to be an attacker. There are times when you get caught.

“But I think he’s a leader. He’s got a lot to deal with, I think there’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders from fans and outside noise and I think he’s dealt with it all very well.

“In some people’s eyes he will still go down as a legend. Others will question each player. Yes, he is judged on his goals, but in the end it is what you have won that counts.

“You look at previous winners who have been there, Barry Ferguson and the like. Look what they did and what they won.

“You will always have to compete against players like that, so he will obviously want to add many more trophies.

“It has been difficult in recent years, but now, with the manager they have brought in, that winning mentality is there.

“If they can add quality, I think they can do it. They are still on course to pick up more silverware this season.”

Hutton believes some Rangers fans will only realize Tavernier’s full impact on the day he leaves Ibrox Stadium.

He continued: “It has been documented that he plays with niggles. He’s very tough, I don’t really remember him except when Nathan Patterson got his break and he got injured.

“He is always available. He always comes first, whether he receives criticism or not.

“What he did at Rangers, considering everything he had to deal with, was exceptional.

“Rangers will have to look to the future at some point and you probably don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

“So maybe two or three years later when someone else comes along and you think, ‘He’s not giving us the goals, the penalties or the crosses into the box.’

“Then you realize that you had a real gem there.”

With Tavernier and fellow full-back Borna Barisic both in the advanced years of their Rangers careers, the club will inevitably be looking to recruit new talent as they look ahead to the future.

Philippe Clement’s side have been linked in recent weeks with former Hibs youngster Josh Doig, who now plays for Verona in Italy, and Hutton believes he would be a perfect signing if his former club can get a deal over the line .

“I think they’re already looking to the future,” he said. “Look at Borna Barisic, who is once again not getting any younger.

‘Yilmaz was meant to be that man. He has played very well in recent weeks, but I do think improvement is needed if he is going to play week in, week out.

“That position is up in the air because there is talk of a move for Barisic and Barisic’s contract expires at the end of the season. They will have to look to bring someone in.

“For Gerrard, van Bronkhorst and for Beale it was Barisic and Tavernier who bombed forward and put crosses into the penalty area.

“They were massive in terms of how Rangers played. When they played well, Rangers played well. But everything comes to an end and it would be crazy not to have plans.

“I saw Doig when he played for Hibs. A young prospect, lots of talent. There was room for improvement.

“He was that modern full-back who liked to get forward. He was strong, aggressive and had good size.

“I haven’t seen him much since he moved to Italy. If he has improved from what he was at Hibs then he is clearly going in the right direction.

“He ticks all the boxes to end up somewhere like Rangers because I think he can handle it.

“Going to Italy will have improved the defensive side of his game. If you can add these qualities as an attacking full-back, you will become better.

“That’s an all-round fullback.”

Rangers will be fighting on all fronts when the club returns to action after the winter break and with the League Cup trophy already in the Ibrox trophy cabinet, confidence is high.

A Scottish Premier League title race and a Scottish Cup tie are on the agenda, but the club will also battle it out in the Europa League with a place in the last sixteen secured.

The club has had a lot of success in the competition in recent years and Hutton believes this will play an important role in the latter stages in Europe this season.

He added: “It seems like they have something special with this tournament. Of course, they made it to the final in 2022 and it was disappointing.

“But the experiences you gain as a group help you move forward. There have been changes within the playing team but I think they are always confident, especially at Ibrox where the atmosphere is great.

“Some performances were excellent. They will see themselves as outsiders, but they will also feel that they can do well with a little greenery.

“That’s why it was huge to be at the top of the group. You avoid that knockout phase. That could be a difficult match.

“It was great to do what they did at Betis and that will have given them confidence in themselves.

“That round is a potential banana peel, so if they miss that, they’ll feel like they can potentially do something.”

Alan Hutton spoke at a Scottish Gas media event. Scottish Gas is the proud partner of the Scottish Cup.

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