Belfast Telegraph

Steven Naismith leaves the door open for a return to Rangers

By Ronnie Esplin

Steven Naismith has refused to rule out a return to Rangers in the future.

The 28-year-old Scotland forward signed for Everton in July 2012 after the troubled Ibrox club were on their way to liquidation and before they re-emerged at the bottom tier of Scottish football.

Another player who joined the exodus out of Govan that summer was striker Kyle Lafferty.

He moved to Sion in Switzerland and the two players will be united at Hampden Park tonight when Scotland take on Northern Ireland in a friendly match, which is acting as a warm-up for the Scots' 2016 Euro qualifier against Gibraltar on Sunday.

While Rangers can only hope to return to the Scottish Premiership next season through the play-offs, Lafferty was quoted as saying: "Some Rangers fans have asked me if I'd go back there and I'd jump at the chance". Naismith understands the sentiment.

He said: "Our times at Rangers are probably the best in our careers. We were a successful team and had some great memories and being a Rangers fan he would have enjoyed it and want to relive them."

When asked if he could see himself ever going back to Ibrox, Naismith replied: "I don't know what will happen in the coming year never mind the future.

"At the moment I love playing for Everton. Since I've been there it's been a great adventure, from being a substitute and not having an impact to playing in most of the big games and having an impact.

"I love it at the moment but you never know, things can change so quickly in football. I'd never rule anything out."

There has been no end to the turmoil at Rangers since Naismith left and following a recent boardroom coup, former Gers midfielder Stuart McCall was put in charge of the team for the rest of the season which meant he had to step down from his post as Scotland coach.

Speaking of that, ex-Kilmarnock player Naismith said: "It was one of the best decisions the new board could have made.

"I worked with him here with Scotland. He's great around the squad, he's straight forward even in this environment when he's not the manager. He'll still tell you, 'it's not good enough.'

"I think it's a great decision and hopefully he can reap the rewards of going in there and getting Rangers back to the Premier League."

Naismith believes the Northern Ireland match will be more than a typical friendly as Scotland look to then add to seven Euro qualifying points from four games against Group D's bottom side at the weekend.

The Toffees striker said: "The Northern Ireland game is a great game because it will be more than just a friendly, with it being against a country so close to home and with a lot of the players knowing each other and playing against each other.

"So there will be more of an edge to it.

"It also gets us familiar with the way that we play. It has been a long time away from Scotland and the boys have missed it.

"It is very good to be around the squad. We have two games and hopefully we can push on.

"I never like to put a number on what points you should have.

"But winning the home games in the qualifiers and taking points in the away games will put you in a right good position."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph