The dark clouds that gathered over Rangers ahead of Sunday cleared in the aftermath of a Scottish Cup victory against Hearts. Leon Balogun would have preferred different climatic conditions but the forecast is now brighter for a side who had looked somewhat under the weather heading to Hampden.

At the end of a difficult couple of weeks, the sun finally shone on Philippe Clement once again. Two goals from Cyriel Dessers secured a place in the showpiece finale to the campaign and kept the treble dream alive. It has also raised the mood of a dispirited support that feared their season was going to snowball out of control.

The defeat to Motherwell and the missed opportunity against Celtic shifted the momentum across Glasgow and losing to Ross County and then drawing with Dundee has put Clement’s side on the back foot. Their fate is still in their own hands leading into the final six fixtures this term but the marginal gains found against the Jambos must be followed up by more significant signs of progression.

Balogun watched on from the sidelines as Rangers stumbled in the Premiership. At Hampden, he was back at the heart of the defence. Clement put the decision to drop Connor Goldson down to ‘freshness’ and intimidated that he had planned to make the switch at Dens Park. In the end, it proved to be a shrewd move from Clement as Balogun marked his return to the side in style, an accomplished performance proving integral to Rangers in a comfortable victory.

Outside of a late run-out against Celtic, the start against Hearts was Balogun’s first minutes since he was forced off against Livingston in early February. The serious facial injury he sustained that day resulted in an absence that was longer than he would have hoped for. After a clamour for him to feature from the start, he proved his quality and his character at Hampden.

"Tired,” Balogun laughed when asked how he felt after the 90 minutes. “I mean, it got tough, especially when the sun came out - I would have preferred it to stay cloudy or rainy, even if we've had a lot of that recently. I think it was eight or nine weeks since I have been playing, and then I was ill at the beginning of the week and only really got back on my feet on Thursday. 

"I had some sort of flu. I was down a few days, didn't feel great or myself. But it was good to get out there again. You have to grind it out and back yourself again and feel good about yourself. I'm happy I did well.

"I think the idea [for me to play against Dundee] was there, but I can't really say because before I even knew I lay down flat and was sent back home from the team hotel.”

A trip to face St Mirren on Sunday sees Rangers begin their post-split fixture schedule. Those five games will determine if they return to Hampden aiming for a clean sweep or just a cup double to mark the end of Clement’s first campaign in charge.

The Belgian has come in for criticism in recent weeks as his side have lost points and lost momentum in the Premiership. He got his big calls right at the weekend, though, and never doubted his side would stand up and deliver. Goldson, for so long one of the main presences on and off the park, took a seat behind him in the dugout.

"He's brilliant,” Balogun said of the man that he partnered during the 55 campaign and has played alongside on many occasions this season. “He always is, whether he is playing or not. In terms of shoe size, I almost make it up to him! But it's big boots to fill and I feel like a lot of the time, he doesn't always get the credit he deserves. He is always vital and in terms of his communication on and off the pitch, his presence, it's not easy to replicate that. He encouraged everyone.”

The position of Goldson has been up for debate for some time. Come the summer, his place within the squad, never mind the team, will be a topic of conversation once again. Clement has shown that he is not afraid to make decisive calls in terms of team selection but his vision for the future will come into sharp focus ahead of his first summer transfer window.

Balogun is one of a handful of players that are out of contract at Ibrox. He does not have points to prove over the coming weeks but his position will be finalised one way or another.

“Obviously you always want to play, but for me, at this point, if you think back to October, and then think about the situation we are in now, you would have signed for it,” Balogun said. “Even if you look at the past week, we could have put ourselves in a better position, but for me it is about being strong as a team. Whether that is me, Ben Davies, Connor Goldson starting, for me at the end of the day it is about what we want to do for the club. We serve at the end of the day and we have a big challenge there in front of us and it takes everyone. If it is me I'll be happy. I think I've proven enough during my spell here that I am a team player.

"I hope [it is a positive for the future that I was picked on Sunday]. I really don't know. I think those decisions will be made within the club within the next few weeks. I hope I get a notification a bit more timely than the last time around! I would like to think I can be quite positive, and touching on what you said about the manager, choosing me [against Hearts], but I can't really tell you - I don't know yet.”

Balogun returned to Ibrox last summer as defensive cover for Michael Beale. Now he could be a treble winner as Clement’s side look to write their names in Ibrox history.

Celtic stand in Rangers’ way in what will be the first Old Firm Scottish Cup final in 22 years. Rangers have undone some of their good work with their Premiership stumbles but the win over Hearts can give them a timely boost heading into the business end of the campaign.

“I think it was very important for us,” Balogun said. “You can kind of see it was a statement because if you have two games that we had last week, it feels like it's been two, three weeks when we've just been training. It happened within one week and everything we had done before went out of the window. At least that's what it felt like, so it was very important for us to switch back on. The manager did very well this week to remind us of what we're really good at and what we've done despite not performing to our best.

“And then [on Sunday], I think it was normal that we potentially had some tough spells. I think we can be really proud as a group of the way we showed resilience and the way we came through those spells. Super Jack in goal doing his job is always helpful! But I think we've done enough to win this game deservedly. It's not a surprise that there were moments where it was like 'they don't really look themselves' but we have to get our confidence back. I think that performance should give us a big boost.”