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Kenny McDowall: I'd like Ibrox exiles back...but fans might not

Assistant manager Kenny McDowall says he would welcome the return of players who quit Rangers in the last year - but believes some would have to work hard to win over the Ibrox faithful again.

A number of first-team regulars opted to move elsewhere following the financial collapse of the Light Blues, who were forced to call in the administrators 12 months ago before subsequently being consigned to liquidation.

In the week the club marks the first anniversary of one of its darkest days - administration was confirmed on February 14, 2012 - former captain Steven Davis revealed he would love to return to his boyhood heroes and play for Rangers again before the end of his career.

Davis sealed a switch to Southampton, who paid a fee for the Northern Ireland international.

McDowall said: "He's an ex-captain of the club and I know it was a wrench for him to leave.

"He's a top football player and I'd have him in a minute."

On the prospect of other former stars playing for Rangers again, he added: "We would certainly welcome them back because the guys who left are all good players.

"Whether the support would accept them, the players would need to win the support over again if they didn't.

"I couldn't say they are not welcome because they are good football players and it's a football club.

"We need to try to deliver the best for the supporters."

Rangers were forced to start from scratch in the Irn-Bru Third Division this season after Charles Green's 'newco' failed to secure entry to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League after liquidation was confirmed.

The departure of key players, such as Davis, Allan McGregor, Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker, meant manager Ally McCoist was left with the task of building a squad comprising youth players and those willing to play in Scottish football's basement league.

Rangers sit 22 points clear in the title race but exits from all cup competitions - including a demoralising 3-0 defeat to Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup - has resulted in criticism of both the manager and his players.

However, McDowall was keen to pay tribute to McCoist for the role he has played over the last year, insisting he has not been given the credit he deserves, while claiming the turmoil will help shape him as a manager.

The Gers number two said: "I think he's done an incredible job.

"It was always going to be hard for us taking over after Walter Smith and we were delighted to be part of the job Walter did.

"But for Alistair taking it on as his first job, it's a big deal, it's a big club with a lot of responsibility.

"The demands to win stuff is always going to be there.

"We knew that but to face what he had to face, and to do it in the manner he did it, he's not had the credit for it.

"But we certainly appreciate what he's done because he ran the club himself single-handedly for many months.

"It will make him a much better manager in the future."

McDowall added: "We've gone from working with international players to lads who were playing in the youth team.

"We've still got some senior guys who we managed to get - Ian Black, Dean Shiels, Fran Sandaza.

"But it's difficult enough to come into a club this size, to carry the badge and settle into a place like this.

"For them to come in when you've been put into the Third Division, to be put in with a load of younger players, it was always going to be difficult for those guys.

"They've had a bit of criticism, unfairly I think, because they need time to settle as well.

"To be fair to the lot of them, the younger ones and the senior guys, they might not have done well in the cup competitions but we always knew that was going to be a tough hurdle to get over.

"They are 22 points clear and they are doing their work. Our aim has always been to win the championship and we are on course to do that."

On this day in 2012, Rangers lodged their intention to go into administration at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Twenty-four hours later, administrators Duff and Phelps were appointed after HMRC lodged a petition over the non-payment of PAYE and VAT since Craig Whyte's 2011 takeover.

Reflecting on the last 12 months, McDowall said: "It's incredible that it's been a year.

"We have been jumping hurdles ever since and it's been a difficult year.

"Our support has kept us going, they have been fantastic.

"I think people expected them to tail off after a few months but, to their credit, they have been absolutely phenomenal.

"They have given us and the team the strength to carry on and keep going."

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