Boss talks the talk . . . now we will walk back to top with him

DEAN SHIELS is ready to be swept along by boss Ally McCoist's determination to restore Rangers to the Scottish summit as the Ibrox club's revival kicks on.

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Dean Shiels is loving life at Rangers and has set his sights on silverware success
Dean Shiels is loving life at Rangers and has set his sights on silverware success

The Northern Ireland international has cited the former player's presence as a key point in attracting him to his boyhood favourites and reckons it was a major factor in the arrival of the likes of Ian Black, Francisco Sandaza and Kevin Kyle, with more big names sure to sign before Gers' transfer embargo begins on September 1.

Fuelled by the fire burning within McCoist to steer his side back to the SPL, Shiels has also outlined the urge within the Ibrox ranks to mount a serious challenge on both the Scottish Communities Cup and the Scottish Cup.

While there is no doubting that the silverware priority for the Ibrox trophy cabinet this term is the Third Division title, the forward is under no illusion as to how tough it will be to adjust to life in the basement and overcome the culture shock that almost saw Gers come a cropper at Peterhead last weekend.

Yet with East Stirling next up at Ibrox, Shiels' enthusiasm to perform in front of the red, white and blue legions – who will number a good few of his childhood friends from home – is palpable.

The 27-year-old said: "The manager has been different class since I have arrived. Ally is so determined to take the club back to where it belongs and that is something that all of the players have bought into.

"His enthusiasm is infectious and he has a tremendous knowledge of the game and passion for it.

"But I have played under a few managers now and Ally is right up there.

"You look at the likes of Ian Black, Francisco Sandaza and Kevin Kyle and the fact that they have all signed for Rangers and are determined to make their mark for the club no matter what league Rangers are in, tells you just how big this club is and how much respect they have for the manager.

"I think that the way the club has gone about nailing them down on long-term contracts and the way that Ally has won them over with his enthusiasm and pride in his club are proof of his determination to get Rangers back up the leagues and into the SPL again.

"But as we saw at Peterhead, last Saturday, we will have some very tough hurdles to negotiate on the way."

Indeed, Shiels' attitude to the season ahead would surely be warmly endorsed by his manager such is his hunger to play a key part in the challenge for every trophy available.

The hitman added: "The bottom line for every player at Rangers is that it doesn't matter what tournament the club is playing in, we are in it to win it. I don't see any reason why we can't challenge for both domestic cups just because we are in the Third Division.

"You look at the calibre of players that are still here in any case like Lee McCulloch, Neil Alexander and Lee Wallace, then the guys who have come in and some of the top class youngsters coming up like Barrie McKay and there is no reason we can't mount real challenges for the Communities Cup and the Scottish Cup."

He went on: "Obviously the priority is to win the Third Division and then you look at the Ramsdens Cup and Communities Cup where we have Falkirk in both tournaments, so these will be tough games.

"But like I say, at Rangers the focus has to be on winning every piece of silverware the club is competing for.

"That is the Rangers way and it always will be."

It is clear that the warm emotions enjoyed by Shiels during his Gers debut against East Fife in the Scottish Communities Cup last week have not been forgotten by the softly-spoken striker.

He said: "My debut against East Fife is something I will never forget. Obviously I have plenty of friends who support Rangers and come across the water to support them. To pull on that light blue jersey and run out in front of 50,000 for the first time was an unbelievable experience.

"Last season when I was still with Kilmarnock I scored the winner in a game at Ibrox when Rangers had just gone into administration and the support was magnificent that day."

Shiels added: "For me the loyalty they have shown the club and just how passionate they are about Rangers was a huge factor in me signing.

"Up at Peterhead it was the same and they stayed with us until the death and we repaid them with an equaliser. When you are playing in front of that kind of support it doesn't matter who the opposition is, only that you are playing for Rangers."

Shiels also revealed that his national manager Michael O'Neill was admirably supportive of his signing for Gers despite their lowly league status.

Some of his high profile team-mates have been left out of their international squads but the former Kilmarnock player has his coach's backing.

He explained: "I have already spoken to Michael O'Neill and he has no problems with me coming to Rangers in terms of us being in the Third Division. The big plus in that respect is that Michael managed at Brechin and he told me I can expect plenty of tough games in the SFL.

"The game at Peterhead underlined that and I am sure that East Stirling will get a lift from coming to Ibrox on Saturday and make it really tough for us."

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