IT has taken Borna Barisic some time, and some effort, to be in the position where the Rangers fans chant his name from the stands.

The song that has been heard and grown in popularity in recent weeks - to the tune of Karma Chameleon - perhaps sums up the nature of the Croatian’s Rangers career. As it says, Barisic comes and goes.

There were times last season where it looked like Barisic might not have a future at Ibrox, never mind a place in the affections of the Gers support.

As he has cemented the left-back berth in Steven Gerrard’s side, his popularity on the terraces has grown and Barisic is now one of the first names on the team sheet as well as on the lips of the supporters.

There is still work to be done to win over some of his doubters and silence some of his critics but the faith that Gerrard has always had in him looks like it will pay off long-term.

And former Gers full-back Steven Smith believes Barisic and his boss deserve credit for the way recent months, with all the trials and tribulations, have been negotiated.

“I watched him quite closely when he first came in because I understand that position,” Smith said. “And he, to me, always looked like he had all the attributes to be a good left-back.

“When he played with Osijek, he was clearly talented but he didn’t show it often enough for Rangers. There were bits in games where you could see he had it all and he is in the Croatian national side as well.

“He has got a great left foot, he is quite tall and quick, and you know there is a player there. He didn’t quite put it all together last season but now we are seeing the real Barisic, the one that everybody thought they were getting. It is good to see.

“Sometimes when players move to a new club, especially one like Rangers, and have a difficult start then it is hard to turn that around. I think you have to credit the manager for that as well because he persisted with him.

“People think he has been dropped, but he has maybe been left out for other reasons and it takes time to get used to the physical side of our game and adapt to the club. You have to credit the manager and the player for turning his form around.”

It is only in recent weeks that Barisic has started to hear his name reverberate around Ibrox but his rise in popularity can be traced slightly further back.

As Rangers toiled away to St Mirren in late August, it was the Croatian that emerged as the unlikely hero for Gerrard’s side.

The goal - a sweetly struck free-kick - clearly meant a lot to Barisic and gave Gerrard a chance to allay fears over the 26-year-old’s importance.

Smith said: “I think the free-kick at St Mirren was a massive turning point for him. I was there doing the commentary for RangersTV and I said during the game that it could be the turning point for him and if he can’t kick on from there then there would be a problem.

“He has used that and really progressed on and sometimes it can just take that one moment in a game to change your whole career round. That could be that day for Barisic. It shows that he has got a good character as well because he has had performances that haven’t been as good and had a few setbacks.

“But he has come back from that and that criticism. You know as a player when you are getting criticised. Even if you don’t read the papers and go on social media, you know yourself when you are not playing well. To turn that round at a big club can be difficult so you have to give him huge credit for being able to do that.”

Given Barisic’s international exploits with Croatia, it should be no surprise that he has finally found his feet in Scottish football. The patience he and Gerrard have shown has certainly paid off for Rangers.

Smith said: “Every player is different and every person is different so it does take some longer than others to settle in and really find their form when they move to a new club.

“Barisic is one that it has taken that wee bit longer and that is where you have to credit the manager for being patient with him and having that faith in him when people are writing him off. Steven has left him out in some weeks but he has managed him well.

“These days, as soon as people see a name that isn’t on the team sheet they tend to focus on the players that aren’t playing and saying they have been dropped or bombed out or whatever. The manager might have seen he was struggling physically or confidence wise at times and at that stage the best thing can be to leave them out and manage them through it.

“You have to credit the manager for managing the player and getting him back to the level that everyone thought he was going to be capable of. Long may that continue.”