Goal-grabber Shiels on a role for Rangers

DEAN Shiels today revealed how being given an extended run in his preferred position has helped him rediscover his best form in front of goal.

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Dean Shiels rammed home a hat-trick for Gers as they reached the Scottish Cup last eight
Dean Shiels rammed home a hat-trick for Gers as they reached the Scottish Cup last eight

And the forward is hopeful he can net when Rangers meet Albion Rovers in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup as a result.

Shiels netted his first hat-trick for the Gers in their 4-0 demolition of Dunfermline in Friday's fifth-round tie at Ibrox. It took the 29-year-old's personal haul to six in the last five games; a remarkable run given his lack of involvement before that.

He went over three months without making a first-team appearance due to a knee injury and not being selected when he was fit. But since being brought back into Ally McCoist's side - due to the foot injury Nicky Clark suffered - he has been outstanding.

The Northern Ireland international reckons being played just behind lone striker Jon Daly in the 4-4-1-1 formation his manager favours has helped his cause. Shiels can play out wide as a winger, in the centre midfield or up front as a hitman due to an impressive versatility.

But the former Hibs, Doncaster Rovers and Kilmarnock man feels Rangers fans see the very best of him when he is played in the hole.

He said: "Operating in a central area just behind the striker is where I think I play best. It gives me freedom to go and get on the ball.

"If you are playing in the position that suits you best week in, week out, then you can play to your best.

"It is where I played for Kilmarnock and I feel it is where I feel I can contribute the most to the team. They get the best out of me there."

Shiels added: "But I will play wherever the manager wants me to play, to be honest. I am just happy to be at Rangers and to play for this club.

"Wherever the manager wants me to play I will play. I just want to keep on helping out the team as best I can.

"This is an exciting time to be involved in the team. We are getting closer to winning the League One title and are also involved in the cups.

"We have the Ramsdens Cup final to look forward to and the Scottish Cup quarter-final against Albion Rovers to play as well.

"We want to keep winning games and finish the season on a high. Hopefully I can keep on playing well and scoring goals and help the team lift some silverware.

"I am delighted to be back fit, playing in the team and scoring regularly. Being out of action for so long both last season and this season has been very difficult.

"But I think that it makes it that bit sweeter when you do get a run. I am enjoying being part of things once again. Long may it continue."

Shiels was brought back into the first team by Rangers manager McCoist last month when Clark was ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a broken foot bone.

He has added a definite freshness and vitality to the runaway League One leaders' play in the final third of the park since being given the nod.

McCoist had no hesitation whatsoever turning down offers from rival Scottish clubs to take the player on loan during the January transfer window. Graciously, the player attributes much of his success in front of goal to Daly, who he has struck up a formidable partnership with in attack.

He said: "Jon is a good footballer to play with. Obviously, he wins a lot of balls for us in the air with his height and his heading ability.

"But he is very clever as well. He links well with the players around him. It is down to me to get around about him and feed off him.

"There is far more to his game than just his aerial ability. He has got great feet as well and is a really good finisher.

"He has scored 20 goals for us in all competitions this season so that tells its own story. I am sure he will score many more goals before the season is over.

"Every player likes playing with good players and I am no different. We have a lot of them in this team and Jon is definitely one of them."

Reports at the end of last year claimed that Shiels had been told he was surplus to requirements at Rangers and could look for another club.

McCoist quickly shot those rumours down and the player revealed that he has no desire to leave his childhood heroes - particularly when they are on the verge of completing Stage Two of 'The Journey' and have the chance to complete what would be an unprecedented domestic Treble.

He said: "I just want to stay here and play for this club. As long as they'll have me I'll be here."

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