It's what you'd call a window of opportunity.

As Rangers lurched from one crisis to the next during a torrid 2012 in which the Glasgow club endured the pain of administration and liquidation, Chris Hegarty found himself involved with panes of a different sort.

Going back to his native Northern Ireland during the summer to earn £50 a day fitting windows with an old school pal was hardly the career move he would have hoped for but the 20-year-old defender's willingness to earn an honest crust has stood him in good stead. There were perks to the job, too. "You'd get a good cup of tea and some buns," he said with a smile.

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While many jumped from the sinking Rangers ship, Hegarty returned to Govan for pre-season training and became one of the first players to sign on the dotted line for the Newco club. His loyalty, hard work and increasingly impressive performances during Rangers' march towards the league title have earned him a two-year extension to his contract that will tie him to the club until the summer of 2015.

After the initial uncertainty during the dark days, Hegarty, who has made 19 first-team appearances this season, can now look forward with certainty as he continues to make purposeful strides.

A healthy dose of reality has also helped him. "I just had to go away in the summer and be really professional, look after myself and make sure I came back in the best condition I could to prove to the gaffer I was worthy of getting a contract," said the Northern Ireland Under-21 internationalist. "Obviously I didn't know what was happening so I had to look after myself. I went out and did a couple of days work back home fitting windows.

"Some of the days I'd maybe think 'what am I doing here?' But it's definitely something I can look back on and say it made me work harder. Looking at my mate (who I worked with), he's not happy doing his job.

"But I'm happy doing what I do and I've just got to keep working hard at it and grasp everything I've got."

While the rough and tumble of Scottish football's bottom tier is not for everybody, Hegarty, who is determined to push for a full Northern Ireland cap, maintains the opportunities and experiences that have come his way due to Rangers' current plight will prove invaluable.

"The games have taught me so much," he added. "I don't think you can really tell anyone what to expect when they're walking out in front of 47,000 people.

"I'm just so happy how the season's gone, playing these run of games, because I feel like I'm improving all the time. I hope over the next two years it'll give me a great stage to get another contract and hopefully the club will be back in the premier league by then and I'll be ready for it."

* Fraser Aird, the 18-year-old Rangers winger, has signed a new five-year contract with the club. Aird has played 12 first-team games this season and has one goal to his credit, the winner in the third division match against Queen's Park at Hampden last December.