RANGERS winger Ryan Kent is looking forward to tomorrow night’s UEFA Europa League clash at a packed Ibrox Stadium.
After joining the Light Blues from Liverpool, the 22-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in his first outing against Livingston on September 14 and just over a month later returned to action as a substitute when he replaced Sheyi Ojo at Tynecastle.
He was back in the starting line-up in Porto’s Estadio do Dragao and, after producing an impressive 76 minutes display on the European stage, he was again a standout performer at Hampden on Sunday as he helped his side beat Hearts 3-0 to progress to the League Cup final.
Speaking at this afternoon’s pre-match press conference at the Hummel Training Centre, Ryan is now relishing the opportunity to face Porto again, this time at Ibrox on Thursday evening.
He said: “I’m probably not 100 per cent fit yet but if 90 minutes is required then I think I’m capable of doing that now.
Obviously Rangers being Rangers was one of the things that got me back here but playing on the European stage, it’s a special feeling for footballers, especially at Ibrox.
“The atmosphere that is created is massive so I feel that it gets the best out of me and my ability.”
Kent believes the 1-1 draw in Portugal two weeks ago should give Rangers confidence going into this week’s fixture. He continued: “I think we were a bit cautious going into that game but we excelled in the second half.
“We came out and put it to them straight away, put them on the back foot, and I think on the back of that result we’ve got a lot of confidence now. We’ve shown what we can do up against them.
“If we can start the game off the right foot and the fans get behind us then we are capable of getting the result that is required.
“I think the performances have improved massively on last season. Going into this season the squad has improved all around. There are players in every position now that can step up onto the pitch, whether you are in the starting eleven or not, and do a good job.
“Especially recently I think the performances have been excellent all around the pitch, both defensively and going forward. We are creating lots of chances and I think teams are realising that now, even in Europe as well.
There is a lot more confidence, the hunger is there and just belief that we can go and achieve something this season.”
When asked if he feels there is pressure on his shoulders going into games because of the reported fee Rangers paid to sign him, Kent replied: “I think there is an element of pressure in every game that I play in.
“Number one, playing for Rangers is pressure alone. You are expected to go and deliver out on the pitch and give the fans what they want.
“Me personally, I give myself challenges for every game. I expect myself to go and put in good performances every game so I treat them all the same.”
At the National Stadium on Sunday, Kent and top scorer Alfredo Morelos linked up impressively in the final third of the pitch, in particular for the Colombian’s second goal and Rangers’ third on the day.
Kent added: “It’s getting better and better. I think it’s been a little bit stop-start this season obviously due to my injuries but we are still building the same relationship that we had last season.
“It’s down to me to go and deliver the chances for him to put away because he’s in good form at the moment in front of goal.”