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Jack glad to have clarity ahead of summer as Beale blueprint kicks in
RYAN JACK has seen his fair share of revolutions at Rangers. But none of them have gripped him quite like the one that awaits this summer. The Scotland internationalist was among a group of players who have been fighting for their futures at Ibrox since Michael Beale replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst as manager in November, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos, Filip Helander, Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield have all been told their time in Glasgow’s south side is up but Jack has played himself into a fresh deal after the midfielder signed a one-year extension earlier this month.
It means that next season will be the 31-year-old’s seventh at the club and like many previous summers, it is one where the squad will be overhauled. Van Bronckhorst signed seven new recruits last summer as the Dutchman tinkered with his squad and his predecessor, Steven Gerrard, brought in 10 new faces in his first window where he was situated in the Rangers hotseat.
Jack, however, insists he and his team-mates have a clear idea of what to expect in the coming months as football’s silly season gets into full swing. Discussions between Beale, the players and the coaching staff at Ibrox over the past few months have ensured everyone knows where they stand, and Jack expects Rangers to reap the rewards by the time the new campaign rolls around.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the same,” Jack said. “There was a lot more uncertainty at the time when Gerrard first came in.
“A lot of players, when a new manager arrives at the start of a season, are not sure if they’re going to be a part of it. Pre-season is coming and you could be sold or moving on.
“It’s different now. The gaffer has worked with us since he came in, over a number of months and a good amount of games.
“While it’s different, all the same principles are there for us as a squad. When new players come in, we have to gel well and hit the ground running. You need to win games straight away.
“Champions League qualifiers and big league games will be coming thick and fast and we have to be ready.”
The prospect of new arrivals, of course, won’t be good news for every member of the team as competition for places grows and grows. Jack knows this firsthand after midfielders Todd Cantwell and Nico Raskin were signed by Beale in the January window earlier this year – direct opponents for a starting berth – but it is a challenge that the former Aberdeen player is relishing.
Competition for places at a club like Rangers is always going to be intense and Jack wouldn’t have it any other way.
He explained: “For all of us, I think that’s what we want. If we’re going to hit our aims and goals next season we’re going to need a strong squad.
“We’re going to need two players, three players pushing each other every day in training for the same position to get the best out of each
other. I’m sure if we start doing that, we’ll see the best Rangers on the park.”
Jack has not had is injury troubles to seek and the 31-year-old’s lengthy list of niggles and knocks over the years has earned him a reputation as a player that perhaps cannot be relied upon for a full campaign.
Beale admitted as much, claiming the player is generally available for around 80 per cent of Rangers’ fixtures, but the man himself won’t lose any sleep over other people’s thoughts about his fitness and longterm availability.
“Look, it doesn’t bother me,” Jack said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit.
“I know what I can give every day to the club, to my team-mates and to the manager. I know what I can bring to the team on a match day and I back myself with that. The manager backs me on it, too.
“That’s the most important thing. Whatever anyone else says on the outside, I can’t influence it. So I just focus on what matters to me.”
A combination of those injury issues and Jack’s advancing years could force the midfielder into international retirement so he is able to fully focus on his club career, but he insists that day remains some way off in the distance.
Jack received his call-up from national team manager Steve Clarke for Scotland’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Norway and Georgia next month, and he feels he still has a few more miles left in the tank before he decides to step down from the international arena.
It will be a short summer for those who ply their trade in the cinch Premiership after the winter World Cup in Qatar lengthened the previous campaign, and Jack is no exception.
“I think [the summer] will be limited,” he reasoned. “[This] week I’m going to continue training at the training centre. Then I’ve got the Scotland camp from June 4 to June 9. Then I’ve got a weekend off and we meet up again, from the 12th to the 20th.
“Rangers are back on June 30 so it’s not going to be a big break for myself. But I want to be involved in big games for Rangers and big games for Scotland, so it’s a sacrifice you have to make.
“Right now, aye [I can still do both]. Right now, my mindset is that I love being part of the Scotland set-up and I love playing for Rangers. Right now, that’s where my mind is at.”