New Rangers manager Michael Beale is hoping he can help Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos rediscover their best form and prompt them to stay at Ibrox.
The highly-regarded attackers are out of contract next summer and free to agree deals with other clubs from January onwards, but both players have struggled for consistency this term.
Beale, who saw the pair at their best when he was previously first-team coach at the Gers under Steven Gerrard, says he “trusts” winger Kent and striker Morelos and is optimistic they can still enjoy a fruitful long-term future in Glasgow.
“I think that’s ongoing,” he told Sky Sports, when asked about their contract situations. “Certainly I’ll get to that, but it’s been ongoing.
“They are two players that I’ve worked well with previously. Obviously I’ve known Ryan and his family since he was 14 (from their time together at Liverpool) so there’s a strong relationship there built over 10 years.
“When I was here previously they were both excellent in different ways. Alfredo, in terms of the goals he scored, and Ryan, in terms of the way he entertained people and got on the ball and took the game to the opponent.
“I think they’re capable of more than they’re showing right now, that’s fair to say, but they’ll have their own reasons for that and they’ll be working away at that.
“I trust both players and we’ve played this out as a club before with Connor Goldson and his contract situation (when the defender ran down his contract before eventually agreeing a new deal last summer).
“Sometimes a player wants to see and take their time, there’s no problem, it’s fine. I think the option is both ways with the players, the cards aren’t in Ryan and Alfredo’s hands.
“We want to create a stronger Rangers going forward, with or without those players, ideally with them.”
Beale is confident he will have the “support” of the Rangers board in terms of being able to strengthen the squad in upcoming transfer windows.
“The guarantees that I have are the same as the last two managers (Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Steven Gerrard),” he said. “If players are identified within the budget, the board has always supported (the managers).
“I lived in that for three-and-a-half years (with Gerrard) where I felt that at times we tried to push that a little bit to get more than what the club could do.
“The club is definitely in a stronger position now. What I’ve asked is ‘let me look at the squad first, let me see who is here, let me see who is present, let me have a look in their eyes’, then we’ll assess from there.
“I’ve been made aware that there’s definitely an opportunity for the right players, in the right positions.
“Let me not assume anything, let me get in and work with the group. At the moment we need to get one or two back fit then if we need to strengthen we’ll certainly do that.”
Rangers are currently nine points adrift of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership and Beale, who was appointed manager on Monday, admits it is “going to be difficult” to get back into the title race.
“I think Ange (Postecoglou) has got a team that’s in momentum and fair play to him for the job that he’s done to this point (at Celtic),” said Beale. “My job is to chase them down, the players’ job is to chase them down.
“That’s a mentality shift in terms of how we look at things because when I left here we were the one in front. So now the mentality’s shifted and we have to chase them down.
“It starts with winning all the other games, it doesn’t start with games against them. We have to get closer. The most important thing right now is we have to reconnect with our fans in terms of the way we play, I think that’s really important.”
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