Evening Times - - SPORT - By CHRIS JACK

KEVIN Thom­son never shirked a chal­lenge in the heat of bat­tle as he led by ex­am­ple to be­come a f i rm favourite with the Ibrox crowd. Now he hopes Ryan Jack and Gra­ham Dor­rans can stand up and be counted and in­spire Rangers in the mid­dle of the park this term. The pair have started to­gether in the draw with Mar­seille and win over Wat­ford in re­cent days as a part­ner­ship that Pe­dro Caix­inha needs to flour­ish has got off on a pos­i­tive foot­ing. An ex­ten­sive sum­mer over­haul at Ibrox has en­sured that Caix­inha is not short of op­tions as he looks to find his most ef­fec­tive side this term.

And for­mer Light Blues hero Thom­son knows the mid­field com­bat is one that Rangers must win if they are to have a suc­cess­ful sea­son this time out.

He told SportTimes: “That area of the team is key and you only need to look across the town at Celtic to see that.

“When you are a Rangers player, your di­rect op­po­si­tion is what is across the road and you have to look at that.

“Scotty [Brown] had a ter­rific sea­son last year but he has done it for so many years. [Tom] Rogic has come to the fore in the last cou­ple of sea­sons and [Stuart] Arm­strong hit the head­lines last sea­son af­ter hav­ing a quiet year un­der Ronny Deila.

“That is the chal­lenge that is up against the Rangers play­ers and they have to find a way of be­ing com­pet­i­tive and be­ing bet­ter than what Celtic have. I think Gra­ham and Ryan will rel­ish that chal­lenge.

“At the back, they have got [Bruno] Alves and it will come down to who part­ners him be­cause he will play. It will be a fight be­tween Danny Wil­son and Fabio Car­doso to be his part­ner.

“But there is a base, a spine of a team there now with two good cen­tre-halves and two good cen­tral mid­field play­ers.

“I think they could do with an­other striker. They have good play­ers in Kenny Miller and Niko Kranjcar, but they still need a cen­tre-for­ward that is go­ing to score 20, 25 goals a sea­son to put the fin­ish­ing touch on that base to cre­ate a good team.”

JACK and Dor­rans are two pieces of the Ibrox jig­saw that Caix­inha is look­ing to assem­ble this sum­mer as he pre­pares for the new Premier­ship cam­paign.

The duo were handed starts for the closed doors win over Wat­ford this week and are likely to be in the side that starts against Sh­effield Wed­nes­day at Hills­bor­ough.

It is an­other chance to stake their claim for a place on the open­ing week­end of the league cam­paign when the Gers face Mother­well.

And Thom­son reck­ons they could form a pro­duc­tive pair-

they have to find a way of be­ing com­pet­i­tive and bet­ter than Celtic

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