Rangers fans' vote of confidence has Sandaza ready to be party leader

FRANCISCO Sandaza today vowed to repay the Rangers fans for their support during his scoring drought – by banging in the goals that land the Ibrox club silverware.

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Fran is still a favourite of the Light Blue legions
Fran is still a favourite of the Light Blue legions

The Spaniard netted in the 1-0 victory over Peterhead at Balmoor on Sunday to restore his side's 19-point lead at the top of the Irn-Bru Third Division table.

It was the first time the hitman, who spent three months earlier in the term on the sidelines with a broken cheekbone, had been on target since way back in August.

And his opportunistic strike, only his second for the club he joined in the summer, was greeted with delight by both his manager Ally McCoist and his team-mates.

The travelling supporters who made the long journey to the Blue Toon at the weekend were also overjoyed to see the player end his barren run.

They have been behind the 28-year-old both during his time out injured and his frustrating nine-game run without a goal.

Indeed, he was given a standing ovation as he left the field against Berwick Rangers at Ibrox earlier on this month despite passing up chances.

And Sandaza today revealed just how much the backing of the Light Blue legions means to him as he battles to justify the faith shown in him by McCoist.

He said: "Every player wants the support from the fans. The club is massive and we have many supporters. When you are on the pitch you feel the warmth from them.

"Against Berwick two weeks ago they all stood up and applauded me as I went off the park even though I had not scored a goal. It was very nice to hear that.

"I really wanted that. It made me want to work even more, in training and on the park in games, to try to make them happy.

"It was not easy being out. I will have scars on my face forever. When it happened to me I was wearing a Rangers top. I will not forget that.

"But the club has been brilliant with me; the doctors, the physios, the technical staff, the players. I also received many letters from fans wishing me good luck and I appreciated that, too.

"I hope I can pay them back with more goals like the one I scored on Sunday. Everybody expects goals from me.

"I have been in Scotland now for four years and I have always scored goals. Maybe the start hasn't been the greatest, but how it begins is not important, it is how it ends that matters.

"I think that every day. I really want to have a successful career at Rangers. Hopefully, with my positive attitude and the support of the fans I will do that."

Sandaza has been given the nod to play as a lone striker in recent weeks due to injuries to skipper Lee McCulloch, the club's top scorer with 22 goals this term, and Kevin Kyle.

Awkward for defences to play against, the powerful frontman has, despite his disappointing goals-per-games ratio to date, excelled in the physically and mentally demanding role.

Sandaza admits he relishes playing up front by himself in the attacking system gaffer McCoist has stuck with this term.

But he has stressed he will be happy to play anywhere on the park in the weeks and months ahead if it means he gets a game for Rangers.

HE SAID: "We have been using that system all season and it has worked well. There is no point in changing it when we are 19 points ahead.

"It doesn't matter if it suits me or not. It is not my decision. The team is playing well using it and we have to keep going.

"Maybe we will change and play with two strikers up front in the future. It will be down to the gaffer.

"I am happy to play wherever the manager wants me to play, to be honest with you. I just want to play football for Rangers. I will play anywhere at all."

Sandaza nearly lost an eye after a horrific clash of heads with Shaun Hutchinson of Motherwell in a Scottish Communities League Cup game at Ibrox back in September.

But he is finding no difficulties dealing with the physical aspect of the game in the fourth tier in the wake of the injury.

He suffered a suspected broken nose in the second half of the narrow win over a Peterhead team who were lucky just to have one player ordered off.

"It is quite swollen, but it is okay," he remarked. "As long as the ball is there I will put my head in to a challenge. If the result is that I break my cheekbone then so be it."

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