ANDY Halliday can become an important player for Rangers again in the second half of the season as they bid to secure second spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership – but not if he is played as a holding midfielder.

That was the prediction from former Rangers player Bob Malcolm today as he welcomed the news that Halliday would be returning to Ibrox following a loan spell at Azerbaijan club Gabala.

Malcolm worked with him during his spell as assistant manager to Barry Ferguson at English Championship club Blackpool in the 2013/14 campaign and remembers him being an outstanding talent.

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The 26-year-old helped to ensure the troubled Seasiders avoided relegation to League One on the final day of the season before returning to his parent club Middlesbrough.

However, Malcolm believes he was wasted playing as a sitting midfielder – where both Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha selected him - and is hopeful Graeme Murty gives him an extended run in a more advanced role.

“Andy coming back to Rangers can only be a good thing,” he said. “He had a couple of good seasons at Rangers before going out on loan and has a lot to offer them. Even if he doesn’t play regularly it will be good just having him in the dressing room.

“But he played as a sitting midfielder under Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha and I don’t think he’s a sitting midfielder. We had him at Blackpool and he played wide of three forward midfielders and he also played left back well.

“He was good getting forward and getting crosses into the box. He has been asked to play out of position as a holding midfielder since he came back to Glasgow and he has done that well. But he has probably suffered as a result of that. Hopefully he will get a chance in a different position under the new manager.”

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Rangers finished third on their return to the Premiership last season behind champions Celtic and second-placed Aberdeen and were in an identical position as they entered the winter shutdown.

Murty’s men are 11 points adrift of leaders Celtic, who they drew with 0-0 at Parkhead in their final game before the break on Saturday, and three points behind Aberdeen, who they have beaten home and away.

Malcolm, who won two Scottish titles, one Scottish Cup and one League Cup during his time playing for his boyhood heroes, believes having another Rangers supporter like Halliday in the squad will be hugely beneficial for his former club going forward.

“It definitely helps,” he said. “I’m not saying the foreign players don’t care, but they don’t have to live with things if results aren’t what they should be the way that home-based players who are fans do.

“They don’t have to live with the consequences when they go home the way the guys who are supporters do. They don’t have to face their families, they don’t take pelters when they walk down the street to go to the shops, don’t get stick off people they grew up with.

“It’s different when you have grown up as a fan. You take things to heart more. If things haven’t been good enough and the supporters are unhappy then you are definitely the ones who relay that to the dressing room.”

Meanwhile, Malcolm has expressed hope that Rangers can agree a deal with Barclays Premier League club Brighton for his former Motherwell team mate Jamie Murphy in the coming weeks.

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Murphy has hardly featured for Chris Hughton’s side in the top flight down south this season and the forward, who can be played either up front or out wide, is believed to be interested in a permanent move to Ibrox.

The 29-year-old grew up supporting Rangers and was the subject of a failed bid to land him when he was at Motherwell back in 2015. He moved to Sheffield United instead.

Brighton, who are set to table a £20 million bid for Celtic striker Moussa Dembele in the coming days, are holding out for a fee in the region of £1 million.

Malcolm, who still attends Rangers matches home and away, believes that Murphy would add another dimension to the Ibrox club’s play in the final third and is exactly the kind of player Murty should add to their squad.

“Jamie is a great player and a good lad as well,” he said. “He can play both as a winger and up front as well. They need to get players like that back at the club, guys who know what it’s all about. He is still a good age too. It would be a great bit of business.

“Rangers don’t have anybody like Jamie. They don’t really have anybody who can take the ball and attack, who can go at players.

“Jamie can beat one or two players and have a shot at goal. He can create his own chances. I think he is exactly what Rangers have been missing.

“I thought Jamie would have gone to Rangers the last time they tried to sign him. Ally McCoist was keen. Hopefully they can get a deal arranged to take him.”