DES WALKER has always known that Joe Worrall had the talent to make it in the game. Now he can see that the defender has the mentality as well.

The Nottingham Forest legend understands the pressure and expectations at the City Ground as well as anyone as players of today are judged against achievements of the past.

That is the same at Rangers. Walker may never have pulled on a Light Blue jersey, but he is acutely aware of the demands that come from playing at a club where second is a failure.

So the 53-year-old was pleased to see one of the men that are could attempt to bring success back to Forest one day make a move that would give him an insight into what is required both on the pitch and off it.

“He is playing for a great club in Rangers and it is an amazing move for a young kid,” Walker said of Worrall’s loan stint at Ibrox. “It is a big step for him to be playing in front of that amount of fans with that amount of pressure. It puts you in good stead.


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“I think he is enjoying it and they are competing well. It has been a while since they went down the divisions and they have come back up and game by game you can see that Rangers are getting there. People like Joe, it is a great move for him because he is in the stepping stone of getting Rangers back to where they belong.

“I think for every professional footballer it is sink or swim. Once you are out there, you are there on your own. Whatever club you are at, you have got to produce. It is as simple as that.

“Steven Gerrard is only interested in people that can help that team get to where he wants them to get and that is the pressure we all have. He is coping with it well, but every game will be a new experience for him.

“Nowadays we kind of expect players to be able to adapt, but it takes time and every game is a learning curve. You don’t stop learning until you are finished.

“I am pleased for him. I remember watching him as a ten-year-old and he has gone a long way. Playing in front of Rangers fans every week, it must be a fantastic feeling.”


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Worrall has never been short of admirers south of the border. He was part of the England side that won the Toulon Tournament in 2017, while Burnley had an £11million offer for his services rejected in January last year.

His reputation is more mixed north of the border, however. The faith that Steven Gerrard has in him is undoubted, but supporters have often been quick to criticise this term.

When Worrall has made mistakes at Rangers, they have been pounced upon my opposition attackers and his detractors. For Walker, it is all part of his learning curve.

“The Forest fans are demanding as well, they think that every team should win European Cups,” he said. “They have had good stock in the past so they are demanding and that will stand him in good stead.

“But it is a step up at Rangers and people sometimes tend to think Scottish football isn’t the same as English football. But it is competitive and when you get to the big clubs, the expectation is of a Liverpool or Manchester United.

“He will have never experienced that before and that is tough because everything is highlighted when you play for Rangers and every mistake you make, the whole city knows you have made a mistake.


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“Sometimes when you play for Forest, it is only the Forest fans that know. There, the whole of Scotland knows about it. That is where the step up is massive and where the learning curve is. If you make a mistake, you have to put it aside and move on and that is a hard thing to do when there are 50,000 people there.”

With the end of the campaign now in sight, Worrall’s thoughts will soon have to turn to his longer-term future and where he will be playing his football next season.

Forest boss O’Neill was frustrated in his attempts to recall the Englishman during the January transfer window and there could well be a place for Worrall in his squad going forward.

Whatever Worrall opts to do, wherever he pulls on his boots, Walker is confident he has the attributes to impress and continue his progress in the game.

“It is difficult for me to decide, that is for him to decide what is best for his career and where he prefers,” he said. “From my point of view, I would want to be playing football so I am going to stay where I am playing, it is as simple as that. Rangers is not a second best.


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“That would be a bigger option to me if I was there playing and the manager wanted me. For me personally, where am I going? But he has to make that decision because Nottingham Forest is also a big club and are getting on. If he feels he can come back, get in that team and make a difference, he has got two options.

“He has been through a lot for a young player, he has been in and out of teams and had great runs and he has had times where he wasn’t at his best. That is the experience, you are learning and he is only 22. At that age, we tend to think people are young.

“In football, you could be nearly a quarter of the way through your career. Are you young? He is man enough and old enough to make his decision about where he feels comfortable and it is best left to him to judge that.”