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New signing Flanagan is relishing a clean slate at Ibrox

 

By Andy Newport

New Rangers defender Jon Flanagan is targeting a fresh start in Glasgow following the off-field issues that brought an end to his spell at Liverpool.

The 25-year-old full-back will be reunited with Steven Gerrard after signing a two-year deal with the Ibrox club following his release earlier this summer.

Flanagan, capped once by England, featured regularly alongside Gerrard at Liverpool and has now been offered the chance to rebuild his reputation under the former midfielder.

As well as suffering a number of injury problems throughout his career, Flanagan was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend and given a 12-month community order earlier this year following an incident in December.

The defender is hoping the move to Scotland can help him move on, and he said: "I think this is a fresh start and it is a platform for me to build on.

"The past is the past and this is now time for a fresh start, and that is at Rangers and I can't wait to get going."

Gerrard has now made seven signings since starting his first senior management role, and Flanagan admits the presence of his former team-mate made the decision simple.

"When I got the call off my agent and then spoke to Stevie, it was a no-brainer for me," he said. "I'm just delighted to be here and hopefully I can show all the fans what I'm about.

"I played with him at Liverpool for many years and he was a big part of me coming here. I know a lot about the club but Stevie was a massive influence on me coming here."

Rangers were drawn to face Macedonian side Shkupi in the first round of Europa League qualifying - the first of four potential rounds en route to a possible spot in the group stages of this year's competition - and Flanagan is confident the Gers are on the way up after a tough few years.

"Europe is a big attraction as well, and it's an extra bonus for the lads to work hard, to push on and get back into the European group stages," he said.

"It is very exciting for Rangers now. There is the new manager, who has freshened things up, and he's brought a lot of players in. It's brilliant to be a Rangers fan now and to be a Rangers player.

"There are good times ahead, and hopefully we can push on."

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers is keen to strengthen his Celtic squad further following the arrival of Odsonne Edouard on a permanent deal.

Edouard completed his move to Celtic earlier this month following an encouraging debut campaign on loan from Paris St Germain.

Fans are keen to see the Hoops strengthen their options in defence after January arrivals Marvin Compper and Jack Hendry failed to make an immediate impression, but while Rodgers is looking to add to his squad, he is keen to wait for the right deal.

"The key was to get the likes of Tom (Rogic, who signed a new deal) and Odsonne in," he said.

"Like always, there are a few areas that we want to be better in and improve. It's never easy because the team we have is developing very well and I like to develop our own players.

"Everyone goes on about a new centre-half, but I don't think they'd be happy with Billy McNeil playing centre-half!

"We have young players developing very well, and they will continue to, but we have to be in the market to bring the best possible players to Celtic, but there are two conditions: availability and affordability. We are always on the lookout."

• Hibernian boss Neil Lennon has been handed a three-match touchline ban following his on-pitch celebration against Rangers on the final day of the season.

The Ulsterman was ushered up the tunnel by fourth official Bobby Madden after darting onto the Easter Road turf to celebrate Jamie Maclaren's stoppage-time equaliser as his side claimed a thrilling 5-5 draw with Rangers.

That earned the Leith manager a one-match touchline ban after he admitted a Scottish Football Association disciplinary charge of "misconduct at a match".

But his guilty plea also triggered a suspended two-match punishment handed out in March following Lennon's bust-up with ref Kevin Clancy at Kilmarnock.

Lennon will be absent from the dug-out as Hibs kick-off their Premiership campaign against Motherwell on August 4. He will also be forced to watch their clash with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park from the stands as well as their opening Betfred Cup tie.

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