January felt like a long month for Lee Wallace.
With the transfer window open and Rangers seeking to cut costs, the team's most valuable asset felt vulnerable. Nottingham Forest made four bids for the defender, culminating in a £900,000 offer that Graham Wallace, the Ibrox chief executive, turned down. The player, though, was already in no doubt that, even if a bid was accepted, he would remain at Rangers.
Lee Wallace had no intention of leaving. With his partner and child happily settled in his east coast home, and the player himself wholly committed to being part of Rangers' journey back towards the top-flight, he could not have been enticed south. Wallace has made sacrifices to remain at Ibrox, not least being left out of the Scotland squad Gordon Strachan named last week for the forthcoming friendly against Poland, but he continues to be certain that he has made the right decisions.
Loading article content
The defender might find himself in the same position during the summer, if the chief executive continues to pursue cost-cutting measures to realign Rangers' outgoings with the reduced income streams in the lower divisions.
The full-back remains the most accomplished player at Ibrox, the one most likely to attract attention from other clubs, but he is also under contract to 2017 and is widely expected to become the next Rangers captain after Lee McCulloch.
"The decision would have rested with me," Wallace said of the interest from Forest last month.
"I am under contract and if the bids had been accepted then I knew what I would have done. I am happy here. It wouldn't have been the best of scenarios for me [if Rangers had accepted an offer]. I always had that feeling [of dread], because the transfer window is always hectic in January, especially when the bids came in. But, obviously, with the club rejecting them I was happy.
"We have got some big games coming up and we have got a big future ahead of us."
Wallace insists that the players are not unsettled by the continuing speculation about the state of the club's finances, and the need for Rangers to consider a potential loan of up to £1.5m from the directors, James and Sandy Easdale, and the largest single shareholders, Laxey Partners.
The chief executive has made it clear that the business needs rebalanced - and has insisted that administration is not going to happen, despite fears that a cash crisis is looming - so that would likely impact on the playing squad in the summer if no fresh funding is received. Wallace will not change his mind should he be faced with a similar scenario, and the club focus provides solace from being overlooked for the latest Scotland squad. Strachan phoned him before the announcement, so that the player would not feel abandoned.
"The manager was aware of what I'm doing; he's in regular contact with Gary McAllister, who covers a number of our games for BT Sport," Wallace said. "I'd never get too downbeat or go in a huff. I've been in this situation before, when I've been in a couple of squads and then been left out. I'll never give up hope.
"I knew it would become more difficult [by going to the third division with Rangers], but the sole focus has always been Rangers. That's evident with the fact that I wanted to stay at the club.
"I envision myself being here for a very long time, as part of the club's recovery. Possibly [it was sacrificing his international career], but if that's how it's ended up, that's a fair sacrifice to me."