Greg Docherty insists he is heading back to Ibrox stronger than ever as he looks to kick-start his Rangers career.
The former Hamilton youngster joined his boyhood heroes in a £675,000 switch 18 months ago – but faced disappointment when new Light Blues boss Steven Gerrard broke the news he would struggle for action this term.
The 22-year-old midfield ace refused to sulk, however, taking the brave decision to leave Ibrox behind as he joined Shrewsbury on loan.
And Docherty has made the most of the opportunity.
On Saturday he should make his 50th and final appearance for the Sky Bet league One outfit against Walsall as he brings the curtain down on his season-long stint at New Meadow.
As well as clocking up the half-century of games, the 22-year-old – reportedly the target of interest from Hibernian – has netted 10 goals and created 11 more for the Shrews to date.
Now he hopes those numbers will have Gerrard sitting up and taking notice as he looks to force his way back into the Rangers manager’s plans.
Docherty told Press Association Sport: “Overall it’s been a good period for me. I feel I’ve played well, I’ve matured and I actually feel like I’m a different player to the one who came down in the summer.
“Off the pitch there’s been difficult moments – we changed manager twice this season – but I’ve come out the back of it stronger.
“I feel the whole thing has benefited me massively. I don’t think I could’ve made more of the opportunity.
“Things were up and down last year when I signed for Rangers and looking ahead, I decided I didn’t want to be in the same position this summer as I was last pre-season.
“I wanted to be in a much stronger position. Saturday against Walsall will be my 50th game of the campaign.
“It was me who suggested going out on loan because I wanted to prove I was willing to better myself and my stance at the club.
“So there’s no doubt I’m going back in a stronger position having played so many games.
“I know I’m not going back to Ibrox to walk straight into the team. I’ll have to fight for my place.
“But having so many games behind me shows I can withstand the rigours of a hard season. If I have to wait and bide my time, I will.
“My number one aim is still to go back to Rangers and be a success. I signed for them for a reason – because I want to play for Rangers.
“This summer I’ll try to control all I can, give my all and show I want to be there for a long time. I’m going back to give it a right go.”
Docherty’s performances helped Sam Rickett’s side keep their place in England’s third tier.
But it is his displays in big FA Cup ties against Stoke and eventual semi-finalists Wolves that he believes prove he can cut it at Ibrox.
“I’ve played a lot of games – and some big ones too,” he said. “We played Stoke twice in the FA Cup (and) also took Wolves to a replay.
“They were high-profile games and I feel I contributed and did myself justice in them.
“Against Stoke, I set up the winner then I scored the opener in the first game against a Wolves side doing well in the Premier League.
“For me personally, it was great to know I could compete with these type of players. We took both clubs to a replay when they were putting out strong sides.
“You just have to look at how far Wolves got to see how seriously they were taking the competition. They were looking to win it so the fact we did so well against them gave me confidence.”
Rangers have been keeping a close eye on Docherty during his time down south, with loans manager Billy Kirkwood making regular trips to Shropshire to catch him in action.
“It’s nice to know they have been keeping tabs on me,” he added.
“Now I can go play my final game this weekend, enjoy my summer then look to get down to work once pre-season starts.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.