Out of position but great displays for Rangers prove Lewis is not out of place

LEWIS MACLEOD is happy to carry on playing out of position - as long as Lee McCulloch is starring for Rangers in the middle of the park.

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Lewis Macleod (centre) congratulates skipper Lee McCulloch after he scored against Clyde in the Petrofac Training Cup
Lewis Macleod (centre) congratulates skipper Lee McCulloch after he scored against Clyde in the Petrofac Training Cup

Macleod, who was sidelined with an illness in the second half of last season, has done superbly well since returning to the Gers first team at the start of this month.

The 20-year-old has netted no fewer than four goals for the SPFL League One champions in the first six games of the 2014/15 campaign.

Many Light Blues supporters would like to see the talented youngster given an extended run in his favoured berth in the centre of midfield.

Yet the player, who is usually deployed on the left flank, has been highly impressed with how captain McCulloch has performed there in the last three games.

The 35-year-old has been moved forward from his usual place at centre-half by manager Ally McCoist in the last three games - and the results have been dramatic.

Rangers thrashed Clyde 8-1 in the Petrofac Training Cup, beat Dumbarton 4-1 in the Championship and edged out Queen's Park 2-1 in the League Cup.

Speaking exclusively to SportTimes, Macleod revealed he had relished playing alongside the former Motherwell, Wigan and Scotland man in the last three competitive outings.

"As long as I am in the Rangers team I am always happy," he said. "Obviously, you would prefer to play in your correct position. But I would play left or right or anywhere in midfield. I am pleased just to be involved in the games.

"Big Lee has done fantastically well in central midfield. He hasn't just been sitting there either. He has been getting forward and chipping in with goals. He got a double against Clyde and another against Dumbarton.

"With the experience Lee has I think he could fit into the team in any position to be honest. He is one of those players who could play anywhere he was asked to.

"He has done well for us everywhere he has played.

"You could argue the games against Clyde, Dumbarton and Queen's Park were against so-called lesser opposition. But those games were perfect for us. We have been able to get a few wins and in a couple of them we recorded pretty emphatic victories.

"Hopefully now we can kick on. We have got a tough game on Saturday against Queen of the South. But we are all looking forward to it. It is definitely a match that we are looking to win."

McCulloch, who has replaced an under-performing Ian Black in central midfield, has insisted he can remain in his new position for the rest of the season if the manager wants him to.

And Macleod believes his skipper can help the Ibrox club's bid to land the Championship as well as the Challenge Cup, League Cup and Scottish Cup playing there - due to his astonishing fitness levels.

"Lee is probably one of the fittest guys in the squad," he said. "He came back for pre-season the fittest of any of us. He is a model professional. It shows in the games. He has been looking good and dedication to his profession is why."

Macleod was pleased to see Arnold Peralta, whose return to Scotland after a summer break was delayed by visa problems, make his first start for Rangers against Queen's Park on Tuesday night.

And he felt the Honduran international - who set up Kris Boyd for the winning goal in the second half at the Excelsior Stadium - performed well against their city rivals given his lack of game time in recent weeks.

The Murray Park youth graduate feels with Peralta back involved there is now the most intense competition for places at Ibrox in the three seasons he has been involved in the first team.

He is hopeful that will help Rangers, who were criticised after their first three games against Hibs, Hearts and Falkirk, to continue their winning run and challenge for silverware in all of the competitions they are involved in.

Macleod said: "To be fair to Arnold, the game against Queen's Park was probably his first full game since he came back to Scotland. He wasn't involved in pre-season and I don't think he featured in any of the reserve games.

"Fair play to him. He set up Kris for his second goal and before that he set me up for a goal that was disallowed for offside when I don't think it should have been. He has done well.

"Arnold coming back means there is now good competition for places at the club and that can only be good for the first team. Everyone is obviously wanting to play. It will be good to see what comes of that.

"Our form has picked up in the last few games. We want to keep that going now and go on a good winning run. We have a lot of big games coming up against good teams and will have to be at our best to win them. But we are confident in our ability and are looking forward to them."

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