Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Davis hoping to roar for Rangers like a Lisbon lion

Steven Davis

Steven Davis is hoping to kick-start his season against Sporting Lisbon tonight after admitting he has not met his own high standards so far.

The midfielder has consistently been one of Rangers' strongest performers since his arrival at Ibrox but knows he has not managed to match the levels he reached in previous seasons this time around.

With Rangers short on midfield options for their Europa League tie in Lisbon, 26-year-old Davis is now determined to return to his best.

He said: “I haven't really hit the heights that I have done in previous years and I think there is definitely more to come from me.

“I'm my own harshest critic at times and I always expect more from myself no matter how I play.”

Steven Naismith and Jamie Ness have both been ruled out of the second leg through injury, while Kyle Hutton is still a doubt through illness after travelling with the rest of the squad.

But, as far as Davis is concerned, it is not only the fit and available midfielders who need to step up.

He said: “The squad is quite small as it is and, with the injuries that we have, there is a little bit of an extra onus on everybody to step up and do better in the games that we have remaining. There is that extra bit of responsibility for everybody to take on.”

Rangers thought they had secured victory in the first leg at Ibrox when Steven Whittaker — who netted a superb solo goal in Lisbon en route to the UEFA Cup final in 2008 — once again scored against Sporting.

But Matias Fernandez came off the bench to snatch what could be a crucial late away goal to tip the tie in the favour of the Portuguese.

“It will be an difficult game,” said Davis. “They are a good side and they can cause us problems. They now have the advantage after getting the away goal at Ibrox so we know that it is going to be difficult but we are looking forward to the game.”

The Northern Ireland international welcomed the news that Ally McCoist will replace Walter Smith as Rangers manager when the veteran boss quits at the end of the season.

Assistant manager McCoist has long been tipped for the job but official confirmation only arrived on Tuesday. Davis said: “We thought that would happen with Ally taking over at the end of the season but it just clarifies the situation. We are just delighted and we will look forward to next season. It gives us a degree of stability now.”

And McCoist's planned promotion could be the perfect tonic at just the right time, according to the man he is to succeed.

Smith said: “You would need to ask the players about their reaction but I was pleased that it was finally announced that Alistair would be taking over.

“It was pleasing from that aspect and, if it does give us a bit of a boost between now and the end of the season, we will be happy about that. It will be a big challenge for him and I think he expects that.

“The one benefit that he has is that he knows the entire circumstances that surround the club at the moment.

“Another benefit he has is that he knows what it's like, with the problems and pressures at the club.”

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