James Tavernier assesses Rangers highs and lows as Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side prepare for Premiership return

Rangers captain James Tavernier
Rangers captain James Tavernier

JAMES TAVERNIER is confident Rangers are still on the right track this term as Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side prepare to resume their Premiership title challenge against Hearts.

Victory over Dundee United last time out helped the Light Blues cut the deficit to Celtic to just two points after their Old Firm rivals were shocked by St Mirren.

That 2-1 success came at just the right moment for Van Bronckhorst after heavy defeats to Celtic, Ajax and Napoli saw supporters pile on the pressure at Ibrox.

It has been a mixed campaign so far for Rangers as performances and results have fluctuated and questions have been raised over boss Van Bronckhorst and the squad he is aiming to lead to silverware this season.

Tavernier said: "Obviously the first block of games, we were disappointed with the Hibs game and losing the men and taking a point there.

"The performance at Parkhead, we didn’t like that performance at all that we put in. But we are only two points in it in the league so there are a lot of games to play, it is still early in the season.

"The boys are raring to go to get it kicked off again. The Champions League, we wanted more out of the Ajax game, we wanted to implement our style of play, which we didn’t do.

"I thought we did that against Napoli and for 60 minutes we played really well. Then you go to ten men and it can be a struggle.

"We conceded three penalties, Greegsy (Allan McGregor) has done wonders to save two out, but that is football at the end of the day. We are relishing the task in hand and the games in hand.

"We are not far away. It is only two points and we have only played the first block of the season.

"There are plenty of games to play so it is down to us to keep our standards and the levels of consistency going through the games to create a real good momentum heading into the games."

Rangers have welcomed back a handful of international players - including Scotland duo Robby McCrorie and Ryan Jack - from international duty ahead of the return to domestic matters.

A tricky trip to Tynecastle is first on the agenda for Van Bronckhorst before attentions return to the Champions League and a daunting Group A clash against Liverpool.

But Tavernier is pleased with the work that has been done during the break as he backed his side to start building up a head of steam with three points on Saturday.

"It has been good," Tavernier told RangersTV. "We have had a full week of training. The lads have been away and are coming back match fit.

"We have been preparing right, we had a good rest, the lads that didn’t go away, and we have been preparing right and getting the tactical side worked on a lot more with more time on the training pitch. It has been really good.

"[It is] another good fixture [against Hearts]. Nice early kick-off after the break. Really looking forward to going over there and playing against them.

"The boys are really preparing themselves right so when we go into that game we will be fully focused on the job in hand and we will want to leave that place with three points.

"You saw in the last game when the young lads mostly played it was just a style of play, moving the ball quick, being precise with our passing and when we do get chances putting them away. I thought the lads did really well, even when we went there earlier in the season.

"It is to try and keep their crowd quiet and implement our style of football, create as many chances as possible but also try and keep a clean sheet. The fans are right on top of you, it is a stadium I like to go to and it is nice to go to midday. Looking forward to it."