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Revitalised Nicholl 'grateful' for Rangers chance after another 'surprise' career twist

By Robert Jones

Jimmy Nicholl is determined to savour every minute of his return to Rangers after the latest twist in his football love affair.

The former Northern Ireland international is back at the club he served twice as a player after being asked to assist new boss Graeme Murty.

He has now jetted out with the Light Blues to America, where Murty's men are competing in the Florida Cup, but Nicholl admits he is still stunned by the latest turn of events.

The 61-year-old has been working as No.2 to Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill since 2015 but only made his return to day-to-day club duties with Falkirk in October - three years on from resigning as Cowdenbeath boss.

He never expected to get the call from Ibrox but the ex-Raith Rovers and Millwall manager is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

"It just came out of the blue," he said. "I'd had two spells at Cowdenbeath and then I was at Northern Ireland with Michael O'Neill. The first surprise was when Michael asked me to join him. That was a surprise because they were top of the group, but he invited me in and I was thankful and I'm still enjoying it.

"But that's you back to just working at the weekends and Michael phoning you on the Thursday, telling you who to go and watch in Scottish football on the Saturday and then report back.

"I never saw 7am for three years until Paul Hartley said, 'If I get the Falkirk job will you come in with me?' He gets the job, I go in and my life stage just changes.

"It's only when you go back into the full-time stuff that you say, 'Jeez I missed it'. It's only when you get back to the day-to-day stuff with the players that you think, 'Right, this is what it is all about'.

"At my age I'm still grateful that people think you can do a job. The satisfaction you get is the fact that the manager and people think you have got something to offer. I'll do my best to offer whatever I can."

Meanwhile, Andy Halliday says he is delighted to be back after a "difficult" first half to the season in Azerbaijan.

The midfielder was recalled from a season-long loan at the start of this month and admits he knew after just a week that his move to Gabala FK was a mistake. He picks making his European debut as the highlight of his time there.

A foreign player rule limited the 26-year-old to just seven appearances, four coming in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League before Greek side Panathinaikos knocked his team out.

Halliday said: "I am delighted to be back. I have known for a few weeks there was going to be an opportunity to come back. I was just waiting for that chance so thankfully it has happened."

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