JAMES Tavernier admits he was initially surprised when asked to play an attacking role in the League Cup semi-final but the right-back thinks competition from Lee Hodson has brought out the best in him.

Hodson filled in at right-back in the Old Firm at Hampden and he retained his place for the Gers follow up draw with St Johnstone.

But Tavernier was back in the Rangers starting XI for their weekend win over Kilmarnock as the defence kept an impressive clean-sheet.

The 25-year-old said:

“I was a little bit surprised when I found out I was playing there but I was excited to have the chance to be higher up the pitch.

“I am quite used to that position though, I can play higher up in games even if I am playing right-back.

“I did the job that day but I do see myself as a right-back but if the gaffer needs me to fill in anywhere I am happy to do so.

“People always talk about the threat that Celtic have and I thought Lee and I nullified that down our side for the whole game and we were happy with the performance but not the result which was a killer blow.

“Lee is a great lad and he has done well when he has been in that position and it is totally down to the gaffer who he picks.

“I just have to put on the best performances when I play to keep hold of that spot and that is why Lee came in in the first place, to push me and Waldo. It has pushed Lee too and it is great competition for the team.”

Wes Foderingham recorded the 100th shut-out of his career at the weekend and Tavernier says he is different to any other keeper he has played with.

Clint Hill and Rob Kiernan have provided a consistent centre-back pairing for the Gers last four games and right-back Tav thinks that is starting to show.

He said: “I was delighted with the clean sheet, we have kept a few this season and it has been really good for me and the rest of the back four and Wes and Andy Halliday too.

“Hopefully that gives the attacking players a platform to score goals and it is my first and foremost job to do so I was very pleased.

“We have played the same back four throughout most games recently and Rob and Clint are getting a great partnership now.

“They have a few clean sheets under their belt now and they are really communicating well with each other.

“Rob is learning off Clint because Clint has bags of experience and it’s just great to have that mix of experience and youthfulness in the side.

“Wes is very good with his feet and we have two great goalkeepers here, Gilo and Wes, and they are both outstanding goalkeepers in the net.

“I think Wes is a great keeper and he is only getting better and stronger as his career at Rangers progresses.”

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