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Rangers boss Stuart McCall is hoping Shane Ferguson can shine

By Andy Newport

Published 15/04/2015

All smiles: Shane Ferguson celebrates his first goal for Northern Ireland in a 3-3 draw against Finland in 2012 but he has yet to play for Rangers since a loan deal from Newcastle in January
All smiles: Shane Ferguson celebrates his first goal for Northern Ireland in a 3-3 draw against Finland in 2012 but he has yet to play for Rangers since a loan deal from Newcastle in January

Rangers boss Stuart McCall hopes injured Newcastle winger Shane Ferguson can play a surprise role in the club's play-off bid.

The Northern Ireland star was sent north by the Magpies as part of a five-man package on the final day of the January transfer window, but Gers missed the fact he was carrying a long-term knee injury when they failed to carry out a medical.

Ferguson, 23, only checked in to the club's Murray Park training base on Monday after he was finally given the green light to resume action.

Now McCall has revealed the Londonderry-born wide man could make his Gers bow as the Ibrox side look to climb back to the Premiership through the play-offs.

The Light Blues boss said: "I was really pleased yesterday when I saw him training. When you have been out for so long with a knee ligament injury, it's not just the physical aspect but the mental one.

"But he was really positive. I've had a wee chat with him and he's desperate to get involved.

"He's a wee bit away from match fitness and won't be ready to play in the next week or two because he's been out too long.

"But he is mentally in the right place, as in he is here to help, and he could be a welcome addition for the back end of the season."

The deal which saw Ferguson, Haris Vuckic, Gael Bigirimana, Kevin Mbabu and Remie Streete swap St James' Park for Ibrox has proved controversial.

So far, only Vuckic has played regularly. Street picked up an injury on his debut against Raith and has not been seen since, while the other three arrived packing injury and fitness issues.

But there was another sting in the tail for the frustrated Gers faithful when they learned the deal included a clause which meant their club would have to give Newcastle owner Mike Ashley a £500,000 cheque if they won promotion.

McCall, though, joked he would be happy to hand over the cash if it meant he had succeeded in reclaiming Gers' top-flight slot.

He said: "It was a surprise to everyone when the news about that came out, because it's quite a lot of money, especially when only one of them is playing.

"But if it was me - and it's not because it's not my money - I'd love to give Newcastle £500,000 because that means we have got promotion."

Ashley's standing in Govan took another pounding last week too when it emerged the club's iconic trademarks and badges had been registered on a government website in the name of his Sports Direct firm.

The billionaire tycoon loaned the previous regime running the club £5million in January and took security over a number of Rangers assets in return.

The new Rangers board have now probed the affair and reassured fans they still remain the rightful owner of the badges - but the row has worried some fans Ashley may now scupper any potential deal for Vuckic out of spite.

The Slovenian has been the sole positive from Gers' relationship with the Newcastle owner after scoring seven goals in 12 games.

But McCall is hopeful there will be no further repercussions, saying: "From what I read from Paul Murray, they are going to have a meeting with Sports Direct.

"Haris has another year left on his Newcastle contract.

"For the here and now he is trying to get us promotion. I don't think there has been any great falling out with the club and Newcastle whatsoever."

Gers bounced back from last week's 3-0 defeat to Queen of the South by sticking four goals past Raith on Sunday. They now face basement boys Livingston tonight but McCall expects a difficult match at the Energy Assets Arena.

He said: "I think this could be one of the toughest games left.

"I saw them win at home to Falkirk and you can tell they are a team that has got everything to play for. Hopefully our quality will take over."

Belfast Telegraph

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