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Flanagan ready for ‘big six months’ as he eyes extended Rangers stay

Rangers defender Jon Flanagan insists he is ready to fight for his Ibrox future after receiving a pep talk from boss Steven Gerrard.

The former Liverpool full-back has entered the final six months of his Gers deal and but would love to extend his stay in Glasgow.

The 27-year-old followed former Anfield team-mate Gerrard north of the border in the summer of 2018 and was a regular during his first campaign in Scotland, racking up 30 appearances.

But Flanagan has found minutes harder to come by this term.

A troublesome hernia problem forced him to undergo two operations in the early months of the season and in his absence James Tavernier and Borna Barisic cemented their status as Gerrard’s first-choice full-backs.

Flanagan was back in the Light Blues’ starting line-up for Wednesday’s 1-0 win over St Mirren as Tavernier recovers from appendix surgery but it was just his eighth game so far.

Speaking last week, Gerrard offered words of encouragement to his old Reds colleague as the clock ticks down on his contract.

“Jon’s in the best shape I’ve seen him this season in terms of how he’s looking,” he said. “He came over to Dubai absolutely flying.

“He trained right through the winter camp and he’s obviously trying to earn a contract here. So I’ve got no doubts that Jon will be waiting in the wings and desperate to play.”

That message has buoyed Flanagan, who is ready to do what it takes to secure an extension.

“It felt good to be back in the team – good to be back starting a game and great to be back on the pitch,” he said.

“It’s not been difficult to keep myself motivated. Definitely not. You always have to be ready. Things can happen and you see the freak accident with James.

“We have a big squad and everyone is waiting in the wings just in case.

“Is it a big six months with my contract situation? Definitely. The manager just tells me to go and do what I do every time I play, so I am giving 100 per cent whenever I get on the pitch.

“I would love to be here beyond the summer. It’s a great club with great fans. Everything about it great, so I would love to be here.”

As full-backs go, Flanagan falls in the safety-first bracket but he played a part in the midweek winner as he swung over the cross that eventually led to Jermain Defoe steering home a deflected Barisic strike.

The win over a Buddies line-up intent on limiting Rangers’ attacking threat will not earn Gerrard’s team any prizes for artistic merit, but Flanagan insists the team are happy to get the three points any way they can.

He said: “We knew the way St Mirren were going to set up and they were always going to be in a low block.

“In games like that, you just have to get through them and get the three points.

“It wasn’t pretty, as everyone knows. But it was a case of job done. We got the three points and we move onto the next one.”

Defoe has stepped into the breech with top-scorer Alfredo Morelos again suspended, but the veteran Englishman shows no sign of slowing down after notching the 16th goal of the season.

Flanagan added: “Everyone knows what Jermain is about and the amount of goals he has scored from those types of positions, in and around the box.

“He has been great for us this season and hopefully he continue scoring.”