CAMBUSLANG Rangers coach John McKeown has hailed the injection of fresh blood that he believes has boosted the Somervell Park club’s hopes of promotion into the Super Premier Division.

One-time Celtic and Charlton Athletic defender Mark Staunton and the much sought-after Queens Park duo of David Green and Chris Duff are among the big-name signings to have thrown in their lot with the high-flying Super First Division outfit in recent weeks and McKeown, formerly Cumnock’s manager until an abrupt parting of the ways in early October, reckons the Wee Gers are a top-flight team in all but name.

And the 37-year-old speaks from a wealth of experience after steering Cumnock to the Super First Division title in the season before last.

He said: "The quality of players at this club are a testimony to the gaffer Paul McColl, who has to be one of the most ambitious managers going the rounds as well as one of the hardest working.

“He was my No 2 at Wishaw and for a brief spell at Cumnock before taking the plunge to go out on his own and there’s no question he knows what it takes to put together a strong squad of players.

“Not for one minute am I saying we are certainties to go up but nobody can deny we are handily placed going into the second half of the season seen as four clubs will step up automatically while another couple will face play-off games.

“The new additions will undoubtedly improve us as a team and might just supply the edge we need to get over the line, though there are another six or seven clubs preparing to argue that point.”

McKeown’s backroom role is a far cry from him fronting Cumnock’s dugout however he is content to be lending support to McColl, Billy Campbell and Jimmy Kerr.

He added: "I don’t think I could have come back into Junior football working with someone I didn’t know but Paul and I going back a long way made it an easy decision and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being involved again without the pressures that go hand in hand with the manager’s job.

“Paul takes it all in his stride, helped no end I have to say by two very knowledgeable lieutenants in Billy and Jimmy as well as goalkeeping coach Derek Barnes who was previously with me at Cumnock.

“If the right managerial post was to be offered then I would be tempted to go back in but right now I am focused on nothing other than helping Paul try to get Cambuslang up among the big boys again.”

On the Somervell Park transfer list is midfielder Graham Ramage whose availability might attract an offer from one of his former clubs Kello Rovers while speedy winger John Henderson has joined Fauldhouse United.

This coming Saturday has fourth-placed Cambuslang making the short hop to face basement strugglers Shettleston and supporters will feel confident of picking up all three points however the Super First game of the day takes place at Portland Park where third-top Troon host the visit of league leaders Petershill, seeking to avoid a third defeat on the spin.

In other games, title contenders Renfrew are on the road to take on bottom-markers Maryhill while a rejuvenated Irvine Meadow will not have things their own way when Cumbernauld United, with new centre-back signing Ross McCabe at the heart of their defence, come down to Meadow Park.