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Burkey article from the Herald


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A new year has dawned and Chris Burke finds himself back in vogue. Just a few short weeks ago it seemed that all the Rangers winger had to look forward to in 2008 was the opportunity to utilise the re-opening of the transfer window to seek regular first-team football away from Ibrox.

Now, the suitcases have been stowed away once more after Walter Smith handed out the only present Burke had been hoping for this Christmas: a Rangers recall.

The conspiracists may question the timing of his return and wonder whether it is the equivalent of slapping a large For Sale sign on the player's back and sticking him in a shop window - the likes of Thomas Buffel, Derek Riordan and Bobo Balde have all been similarly thrust back into the spotlight recently after extended spells on the sidelines - but Burke remains determined to make the most of this fresh opportunity, regardless of the motives behind it.


After being forced to consume a regular diet of reserve football, Burke sightings at Rangers' top flight matches had become as rare as a funny sketch during Only an Excuse (Frank McAvennie likes burdz, Chick Young secretly supports Rangers and Cathy Jamieson isn't too bright - okay, we get it.

By the time the Christmas cards had gone up, Burke had featured only once during the current campaign, the 4-0 CIS Insurance Cup victory over East Fife, in which Smith showcased the depth of his squad by also allowing Roy Carroll, Ugo Ehiogu, Alan Gow and the previously-mentioned Buffel to make rareappearances.

A six-minute cameo against Hearts, however, on December 15 signalled that the door remained slightly ajar for a return and Burke barged fully through it by making his first league start in almost nine months, collecting the sponsors' Man of the Match champagne in the process, in the Boxing Day victory over Motherwell.

He closed 2007 with another sparkling performance, setting up both of Rangers' goals in a 2-1 win at Easter Road and had been set to take to the Old Firm stage this afternoon before the death of Phil O'Donnell led to its postponement.

At 24, Burke no longer falls into the "promising youngster" category but has shown enough in recent matches to suggest there may be a future for him at Ibrox after all.

He said: "I'm happy to get my chance and to be back in the team.

"I'm doing all I can to try to stay in the team and hopefully I've done enough to play in the next game.

"I tried to stay positive about my situation - you have to. You don't want to be negative about anything as that affects you. Obviously I would have liked my chance sooner rather than later but that's the way football goes.

"At the start of the season I was injured and the team was playing well and it was difficult to get into the side.

"But then I got my chance against Motherwell and I thought I played quite well in that game."

Smith was the man who handed Burke his Scotland debut, the midfielder scoring twice in a 5-1 Kirin Cup win over Bulgaria in Japan.

Club recognition from the same man has been harder to come by but the former Rangers youth player is content to be simply back in the frame once more.

"The gaffer gave me my international debut and I was grateful for that," Burke added. "Then he signed me again on a new contract which was pleasing again. I'm just happy now with the way things are going and long may it continue."

The next step in Burke's renaissance will now not take place until this weekend following the postponement of today's Old Firm match.

The player offered his condolences to those affected by the death of O'Donnell. He added: "I didn't know Phil O'Donnell but for the people who did know him it must be tragic. Obviously my thoughts go out to his family and close friends. It does put football into perspective."


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