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Steven Naismith on his first pre-season with Rangers


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By Andrew Dickson

STEVEN NAISMITH is relishing his first full pre-season with Rangers and hopes it can act as the platform that allows him to finally fulfil his potential at Ibrox.

The 22-year-old hadn't signed before the start of the league campaign in 2007 and was out with a knee injury last summer.

This year, however, he's fit and ready to make the impact Light Blues followers have been hoping for ever since he joined from Kilmarnock for £2million.

In his time with Gers so far, Naismith has only shown glimpses of what he can do and has lacked consistency.

The reasons for that have included the fact it takes most young players time to settle when they join an Old Firm club and his eight-month spell out of action last year.

Now Naisy is ready to put the past behind him and show why Walter Smith fought so hard to bring him to Glasgow's south side.

The Scotland cap said: "It is third time lucky for me in terms of pre-seasons with Rangers, although the boys aren't necessarily saying that!

"I obviously hadn't joined the club yet two summers ago and last year I was less than halfway through my rehab when everyone returned.

"From that point of view, I'm just glad to be involved this year and I'm looking forward to getting away to Germany with everyone next week for some hard work over there.

"It'll be a good trip for us all because it's another opportunity for everyone to spend time together, become closer and gel a bit more.

"Everyone was ready for a break six weeks ago but now that we're back, we're raring to go again.

"As the weeks have gone on, we've all missed the banter we have with each other so it's nice to be back to business."

Naismith has worked hard in the gym over the summer to the point that his fitness test results when he returned were amongst the best in the squad.

With a return to the Champions League and an SPL title defence coming up, the youngster knows he must be in top condition to meet the demands placed on him.

Naisy added: "Everybody knows how tough it is throughout a season, especially when you're playing in the best club competition in the world.

"You need to be at your peak when you're going to be involved in so many competitions and the boys have made a conscious effort to stay fit over the summer.

"Personally, I've done a good bit of work in the gym and combined stuff I had to do for my knee with a bit of running too.

"I've come back for pre-season feeling very good and a lot of the other guys in the squad are the same.

"The work we do before we come back to training definitely stands you in good stead when you finally return.

"When we went into running at the end of last week, it wasn't as hard as it might have been otherwise and that helps."

Naismith accepts this term could be a pivotal one in his career and he's determined to move in the right direction.

After he returned from injury last season, he completed 90 minutes just twice against Forfar Athletic in the Scottish Cup and St Mirren in the league.

He's eager to feature much more often in the months ahead and realises he must grasp whatever opportunities might come his way.

Naismith said: "Everyone wants to be involved at a club such as this one and I'm no different.

"Coming back and trying to get fit halfway through the season - as I did last year - is always hard and that was the case for me.

"Looking back, I realise the manager wasn't going to take risks on a player who was out for eight months when we had so many important games.

"It was a time when I just had to be patient. I got some game time but now it's down to me to try to push on and make it a far better campaign on a personal level."


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