BEING on the fringes of the Manchester City squad was a double-edged sword for Brandon Barker. As a winger, being able to lean on the likes of Raheem Sterling for advice was invaluable. The only problem was, with Sterling ahead of him in the pecking order at the Etihad, he was unlikely to ever make the breakthrough into Pep Guardiola’s first team.

Barker took the positives from the situation though, speaking to Sterling regularly and picking up pointers along the way, and he says that the England man was fully behind his decision to finally make the break from City and find a new home at Ibrox.

“I learned a lot from Raheem,” Barker said. “Watching him grow from when he first came to what he’s doing now. We used to speak a lot and he was really encouraging.


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“Watching him now becoming a great player in the world is great to see.

“The best advice [he gave me] was just to be yourself and never be afraid. I think that’s how I play. It doesn’t matter who I’m playing, I don’t have any fear, and hopefully I can show the fans what I’m all about.

“It was my time to move on now and I think all the boys knew that. It was sad because I’d been there 16 years and I grew up at City from a being a little baby. But I needed a new home, I’d needed one for the last two seasons. Now I have that opportunity and I’m just buzzing.

Rangers came in, Steven Gerrard phoned me, and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.”

Finding a home is a theme of the conversation with Barker, who Scottish fans will already know from his season-long loan spell at Hibernian. He was out on loan again at Preston North End last season, but he is certain that Rangers supporters will see the best of him now that he has put down permanent roots.

“I lost my way a bit going out on loan all the time,” he said.

“It is not easy to leave your family and to keep going different places.

“I have been looking for an actual home and now I have that. I’m grateful for that and hopefully Rangers will reap the rewards of that.

“It is hard when you come to the end of the loan and you don’t know what will happen the following season.


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“It can be difficult to stay focused but now I know I’m a Rangers player. And I can say that with a smile on my face.”

A quirk of Barker’s move to Rangers of course is that the manager he spent a year working under at Hibs, Neil Lennon, is now back in charge of his new club’s arch-rivals Celtic.

The 22-year-old acknowledges that he owes a debt of thanks to Lennon for helping him to establish himself in professional football, and he is in no doubt that the year he spent at Easter Road on loan from Manchester City, played a major role, ironically enough, in helping him to where he is now.

But his gratitude only stretches so far, and Barker will be doing everything in his power to make sure his former boss has a thoroughly miserable season.

“This is my club, this is my home and I want the absolute best for Rangers,” he said.

“I want to establish myself here and I want the fans to remember who I am.

“When [the Celtic] game comes, we’ll see what happens. [Neil Lennon] gave me an opportunity and I was grateful to Hibs for doing that.

“Now I am a Rangers player and I’m ready to give everything for them.

“I was here for a year and I know what the league takes. It is a competitive league, but we have a really good squad and we will compete this year.


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“I think I became a man when I was up here first time. There were ups and downs and I had an injury I had to deal with. But I learned about the Scottish game.

“People talk it down a lot but there is nothing to talk down. It is getting better and better and I’m really excited to be a part of it again.”

One of the main hurdles that any winger at Rangers will have to contend with this season is making the Ibrox support forget about Ryan Kent, but Barker is determined to add a regular end-product to his game in order to have a similar impact as the on-loan Liverpool man did in Glasgow.

“I’d like to add goals to my game,” he said.

“I think that’s our job and sometimes it’s said wingers don’t score enough goals. I think that’s right, we do have to chip in with a lot of goals and a lot of assists.

“Hopefully I can bring that to Rangers.”