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Bumps on the journey for the first passenger

IT has been famously described as 'the journey' and one of the first travellers has felt some bumps along the way.

Black wants to earn new deal at Ibrox
Black wants to earn new deal at Ibrox

Ian Black was the first player to sign for Rangers post-administration and his two years with the club have witnessed Rangers climb to the verge of the SPFL Championship but they have also been punctuated with a ban for betting on football matches, disciplinary controversies and occasional criticism over his form, particularly in his first season.

The former Hearts midfielder is philosophical about the increased scrutiny, stating: "The more you play, the more you get and I've had my fair share and for this club as well. But you're under a lot of pressure and no matter how well you are doing at this club, it's never good enough. So the players adapt to it well, take it with a pinch of salt and get on with it."

The pressure now increases with Rangers being tipped to win the William Hill Scottish Cup and Black, who won the competition with Hearts in 2012 before signing for Ally McCoist, does not shrink from the task. "Yeah we can win it," he says briskly. He describes the quarter-final against Albion Rovers as "tough", insisting: "If we turn up sleeping on the day, we'll get beaten."

But he adds: "This squad's full of hunger and it always will be. We want to do well and win things, so hopefully we can get the league wrapped up soon. If we win the cup, then brilliant, but we have a tough game first."

He insists the gap between the teams in Scotland - from League 2 to the Premiership - is not huge. "They are always going to say there's a big difference, but you've got to take into account they [Celtic] were beaten by Morton. So it's tough and it's always going to be tough for the Old Firm - any team you play raise their game. If we draw a Premiership team, it's up to us to show there's not a massive step between the leagues."

Black is also aware that he has the opportunity - with two seasons remaining on his contract - to be a traveller on the entire journey to the top division. But will his contract be renewed, allowing him to play in the Premiership for Rangers?

"That is my aim," says Black who will be 29 next month. "Coming here when we were at the bottom my aim was to help the club get back up and it is up to me to keep playing well to get [a new contract]."

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