Lee Wallace hopes to renew 'telepathic' bond with former team-mate at Rangers

LEE Wallace is looking forward to renewing his "telepathic" partnership with Marius Zaliukas next season if Rangers complete the signing of his former Hearts team-mate this week.

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Second sight...Lee Wallace and Marius Zaliukas had a great defensive understanding at Hearts
Second sight...Lee Wallace and Marius Zaliukas had a great defensive understanding at Hearts

Wallace was pleased to see Zaliukas, who he played alongside at Tynecastle for five seasons, join up with the Ibrox club on their pre-season tour of the Highlands.

The left-back rates the centre-half, who is a free agent after parting company with Leeds United at the end of last season, highly, and is optimistic he will accept the deal he is set to be offered.

The two men teamed up once again in the second half of the SPFL League One champions' friendly match with Brora Rangers at Dudgeon Park in Sutherland on Sunday.

Despite not playing together in over three years, they dovetailed superbly and prevented the home team from scoring in a game that, thanks to a late Kris Boyd goal, ended in a 1-1 draw.

"We hadn't played together for a while," said Wallace. "But it was scary because we hadn't lost that understanding we had while we were at Hearts. We played in the second half against Brora and it was as if we had played together just last week. It was almost telepathic.

"We had that at Hearts when we played together there and hopefully we can have the same understanding at Rangers if he joins.

"It was great stepping back on to the pitch with him. It was a weird scenario because it felt like we were back doing what we did with Hearts. Hopefully the club and him can sort something out in the next few days."

Rangers will need to overcome Hearts - who they take on in their opening SPFL Championship match at Ibrox on Sunday, August 10 - to clinch a place in the top flight.

Wallace believes the acquisition of Zaliukas, the 30-year-old Lithuanian internationalist, will help them to achieve their main objective in the 2014/15 campaign. "He's got great attributes for a centre- half," he said.

"But then I've known that for some time. In fact, when he first came to Hearts, if I remember rightly, his first game for the club was in midfield.

"He's quick, is dominant in both boxes and is great in the air. He's fit and sharp and he's a great guy to have in the dressing room. He's got a bubbly personality and he'd be a great addition I'm sure.

"He took over as Hearts captain when Christophe Berra moved to Wolves. I was a bit younger then and I remember he helped me a great deal.

"He will be great for the younger lads that are here in our dressing room at the moment. He is someone they can look up to because he is really professional and always gives all he can.

"It's funny how things work out because his first game could be against Hearts. But he left that club on great terms having lifted the Scottish Cup.

"Of course, myself and Ian Black played at Tynecastle, too, so it's strange how it all pans out. But we are looking forward to the challenge of the new season.

"Marius is hungry, he's determined and I think he's desperate to come here. I hope we can get something done."

If Rangers do succeed in signing Zaliukas in the coming days he will be the fourth new player to join them in the summer with Boyd, Darren McGregor and Kenny Miller having all joined in the close season.

Wallace, one of a handful of senior players to remain at Ibrox throughout their off-field troubles, has been delighted to see experienced professionals bolster the squad.

Despite continuing concerns over the financial situation at the club - it was announced last month that only 17,000 fans had bought season tickets for the new campaign - he feels it shows progress is being made.

He said: "It's great to see all these lads back at the club. It's great to see we are attracting so much experience and quality, too.

"I always felt it would be a matter of time before we got these kind of players back at Rangers.

"We are close to getting back to where I believe that we should be and guys like Boydy, Kenny and Marius can only help us in our goal.

"Boydy and Kenny are bigger names at the club than I am and hopefully they can help us get back to where we should be playing our football. You feel there is now light at the end of the tunnel."

Wallace and the rest of his Rangers team-mates will enjoy some time off this week before flying out on the tour of Canada and the United States on Saturday.

The Scotland internationalist feels that, despite failing to beat Highland League champions Brora at the weekend, huge strides forward have already been made during their time in the north of the country.

"It was good to get away for a few days," he said. "The best thing about going away is that you get to integrate all of the new signings.

"When you go away on tours it's all about getting to know the new lads and getting your match sharpness up. We've built on all the hard work we did at Murray Park.

"It's been great getting to know Darren McGregor. He's a really nice guy and he has some story to tell. I know he's hungry and wants to come in and make an impact."

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