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Rangers' James Tavernier has qualities of a striker: Rob Kiernan

By Andy Newport

Rangers defender Rob Kiernan reckons full-back James Tavernier is so good going forward he could play as a striker.

Centre-back Kiernan was one of three Wigan players who swapped the DW Stadium for Ibrox during the summer, with Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn also moving north.

It has been 23-year-old Tavernier who has made the biggest impact of Mark Warburton's 10 summer signings so far.

The former Newcastle youngster has netted four goals in his first six games for the Light Blues from right-back - including two stunning free-kicks against Hibernian.

Kiernan has long been impressed by his former Latics team-mate - even though he was so out of favour under Malky Mackay last season that he was sent to Bristol City on loan.

He said: "James was a little bit unlucky at Wigan not to get a real run in the team but his talent is there for everyone to see and he just needs to be playing every week and improving like we all do.

"He plays such a big part for us going forward. The modern day full-backs are like that. If you look at the Premier League, most teams have full-backs that you think could play front three.

"That is the modern day full-back and I'm sure Tav will have a great career. He's hit the ground running here and he's a good lad who works hard so he'll do well."

The displays of Tavernier and skipper Lee Wallace on the opposite side of the Gers back-line have been prominent in the Ibrox outfit's start to the campaign.

But despite helping his team to six wins out of six, there was no place for Wallace in Gordon Strachan's Scotland squad for next month's Euro 2016 qualifiers against Georgia and Germany.

Kiernan, though, believes the rejuvenated Light Blues captain is playing well enough to merit a recall.

"I believe he's good enough," said the Republic of Ireland Under-21 cap. "He's someone I think could play at a higher level and he's someone who is well respected in our changing room."

Gers will aim to make it a magnificent seven victories in a row tonight when they face Airdrie in the second round of the League Cup.

They have scored 20 goals already, shipping just four at the other end. But while their start has been blemish free so far, Kiernan insists life has not been easy for the Glasgow giants.

He said: "It hasn't been easy at all. It's nice, but it's just a start and there is a lot more to come. It's been a good start but we're nowhere near where we want to be, nowhere near the finished article.

"The standard is a lot better than people say it is. Obviously teams will come and try to stop us playing, so that makes it difficult, but you have to find ways to do that.

"Each week we have a different game plan and we enjoy that. It's a long season. I don't think there's added pressure. In every game we're expected to turn up and win and that's our objective."

Belfast Telegraph


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