RANGERS looked to have landed a real coup when they signed David Templeton towards the end of the transfer window in August 2012.
The winger was highly thought of, still just 23 years old and had signed off from Hearts by scoring a Europa League goal against Liverpool at Anfield.
In the circumstances it was something of a surprise that he elected to advance his career in the bottom tier of Scottish football rather than pursue options in England but it looked like one of Ally McCoist's most astute signings. Two goals on his debut added to that feeling that Templeton was destined to be a success for Rangers.
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It has not quite turned out that way. A promising first season - he scored 15 goals from 26 appearances - has given way to a difficult second one. The 25-year-old has been hindered by niggly injuries, patchy form and a loss of confidence, reduced in the most part to that most wounding of euphemisms for any player: the impact substitute. Paulo Sergio, the one-time Hearts manager, recently compared his former player's struggles to "a top pianist playing in a bad orchestra" and felt that playing in the more combative arena of lower league football had diminished Templeton's effectiveness.
There are signs now, though, that the winger is gradually returning to the sort of form which persuaded Rangers to pay around £700,000 to sign him 18 months ago. He has three goals from his last four games, including a fine individual effort against Dunfermline Athletic in Friday night's 4-0 win in the William Hill Scottish Cup, and has also regained his place in the starting XI, playing from the first whistle in Rangers' last two matches.
"Obviously, I've struggled this season, starting from pre-season where I got a few niggly injuries and when I did get back playing I wasn't at my best," said Templeton with admirable candour. "I feel now I'm starting to get back to the way I know I can play. That's two sub appearances and two starts and I feel I've done well and I'm starting to get my match fitness back too."
The phrase "confidence player" could have been coined for Templeton. In form there are few better at beating defenders with pace and trickery but for a while it simply was not clicking for him. "When I came back from injury I just wasn't feeling sharp or fit and that obviously doesn't help," he added. "I wasn't playing well and your confidence goes. It is tough, especially in front of 40,000 or 50,000 fans.
"I think any player is a confidence player; if you are not playing with confidence, you don't try as many things as what you usually do. Now I feel like I'm doing well enough to try and take my man on all the time. If your confidence is high, then you do play a lot better."
Templeton acknowledged Sergio's comments but felt that his struggles were not linked to the level of football he has been playing at over the past two seasons. "It's just been because I have not been fit that I have struggled," he said. "For all I know I could have gone down south and never played and my career could have ended up a lot worse. So for me, I feel like it's been the right decision to come here. It is good playing under the manager and hopefully I can help get the club back to where it should be."