John Lundstram’s dubious start to his Rangers career left fans wondering what all the fuss was about.
The midfielder, touted as a signing coup on a free from Sheffield United, struggled to impress as he adjusted to his new surroundings.
One man in no doubt the former Blades hero would adapt to show his class is Alex MacDonald.
The ex-Scotland Under-21 man was a team-mate of Lundstram and Kemar Roofe when both Gers stars fell from the Premier League fringes to League Two at Oxford United.
MacDonald, now at Gillingham, reckons Lundstram’s Rangers career is about to soar after turning the corner with some powerhouse performances.
Indeed, he thinks the 27-year-old possesses many key ingredients of a Rangers captain.
MacDonald recalled how Lundstram landed the job of Oxford skipper from boss Michael Appleton when he was just 22.
MacDonald, who played for Falkirk and Inverness Caley Thistle, said: “We got promoted to League One, and a few older lads were eyeing the armband.
“I was certainly in the running! But the manager sat us all down and said he was giving it to John as that figure who can drive a team forward.
“He always had an older head on his shoulders. I see him being at Rangers a long time, and think he’s future-captain material.
“He was never massively vocal but, like the manager he’s playing for now, leads by example on the pitch and is exceptional off it.
“As a Liverpool fan, to go to a massive club run by Gerrard was too good to turn down, so I know how much this means to him.”
Lundstram was frustrated to stop short of the Everton first-team. He grafted back through each division with Oxford then Sheffield United.
“When he first arrived, he was a holding midfielder,” recalled MacDonald.
“His range of passing, left or right, for a young lad was exquisite.
“He sat in front of the back four and dictated games. As I watched him grow, he turned into a ‘No. 8’, made things happen in the final third and was so powerful running from midfield.
“He’s the complete midfielder. With size, power and passing range, everything fits for him being a fantastic player for a great club.
“I can only see him going from strength to strength after his early blip.”
Lundstram starred, and Roofe scored, as the Gers gained their first Europa League win of the season against Brondby.
MacDonald reckons, as scoring struggles for Alfredo Morelos continue, Roofe can fill the void in front of goal in his second Ibrox campaign.
“If Kemar is fit, he’ll score more than 20 league goals – every year,” MacDonald stressed.
“He scored 26 in 48 games in 2016, and was a major influence on our promotion, Wembley trip and Cup runs.
“Kemar played off the left and right and up front, as a No. 10. Wherever we put him, he looked as if he was going to win us the game.
“I loved watching him come in off the left. His finishing from the edge of the box was brilliant.”
MacDonald signed two weeks before Roofe, who initially joined on loan from West Brom, in February, 2015.
“Michael Appleton had this thing about third or fourth loans being really beneficial as it’s sink-or-swim time,” recalled MacDonald.
“Kemar was a breath of fresh air. A proper professional, who’s always looked after himself.
“I’ve seen loan lads come to clubs with a chip on their shoulder, thinking they’re better than the level.
“But Roofey got his head down from day one.
“I had a spell living with him in a house with four others.
“He was never interested in going out and having drinks. He just wanted the best for him and his football.
“He was the star of the show. He knew what he was doing, and that it was a stepping stone.
“So he was ‘shoot on sight’. He wanted to score, win games, get the plaudits. And he did.
“I’ve followed him ever since, to Leeds United and Anderlecht.
“Then he signed for one of my favourite teams, Rangers, and I knew he’d love it.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe