THE first few months of the 2023/24 season have proved every bit as challenging for Sam Lammers as an individual as they have for Rangers as a club collectively.

The Dutch forward, a £3.5m signing from Atalanta in Italy back in June, struggled to produce his best form and justify his transfer fee after arriving in this country as the Ibrox club toiled at home and abroad.

But Lammers is loving life under new manager Philippe Clement now and can only see good times ahead for himself personally as well as the Glasgow giants as a whole with the experienced Belgian in charge.

Domestically, he has helped Rangers to move to within five points of leaders Celtic in the cinch Premiership table and make it through to the Viaplay Cup final in the past fortnight.

He was, too, involved in a Europa League triumph over Sparta Prague in Govan on Thursday night which took his side to within a win of a place in the knockout rounds of a continental competition. 

The 26-year-old, who has won the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven and the Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt in the past, believes the victory over the Czech champions was another important milestone in the journey this new-look team has been on.

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He has been impressed by the impact which Clement has made on and off the park and feels having the fans who savaged him and his fellow new signings when displays and results were poor back onside will have a positive impact going forward.

“The Sparta win was a really big step for us,” he said. “It is a good move in the right direction, where we were already heading. This is a good sign.

“You can see we are building something with this team. You could see the reaction from the fans on Thursday night. There was a really positive atmosphere – in the team, in the dressing room, but also on the pitch. It is really important that we have this connection with the fans as well.

“Directly after the Sparta goal, I could feel that they felt that we needed their support. If they feel our energy and see we are going in the right direction with the team then they are behind us. No, we are feeling really good.

“Yeah, it is night and day to what it was really. It is really important for us to have the fans on our side, that they feel our energy, that we work together. They see that we are working on something really beautiful with this team. So, yeah, we are heading in the right direction.”

The Herald: Lammers, who has played in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen and PSV, Serie A with Atalanta, Empoli and Sampdoria and the Bundesliga with Eintracht, has come under fire from fans and pundits along with his fellow new recruits Jose Cifuentes, Danilo and Cyriel Dessers this season.

Having been involved at major clubs across Europe throughout his career, though, he has not been affected by the criticism and has simply focused on training hard through the week and performing as well as he possibly can on match days.

“This is normal in a club like this,” he said. “We had some bad results. It is logical that fans are getting impatient and they search for explanations. It is not the first time.

“To be honest, I didn’t see much of it. But for me it is normal that the fans are not happy when we don’t get results. But now it is night and day. I feel the energy from the fans and hopefully it is the other way round as well."

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Lammers, who can play in a number of positions up front, confirmed that he had spoken to Clement on a one-to-one basis after Michael Beale was sacked, but he declined to reveal what had been discussed. 

The versatile footballer, though, confirmed he is enjoying playing just off the lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 formation which his new manager has favoured since being appointed.

“Every player talks with the new manager,” he said. “We had a really good talk. He was clear in what he expects from me. This is of course between me and the manager, but you can see my role in the No 10 position. Yeah, I think this team is coming together really well.

“I have played a lot as a striker in my career, but also as a No 10. I think I can do both. Right now, this is going really well. It is the whole team coming together well. We are heading in a good direction. But for me I am really happy in the No 10 position. I can be really active in the play, get on the ball more and show my qualities.”

The Herald: Clement has been critical of the fitness levels of the Rangers players since replacing Beale – but his charges fought to protect their narrow lead over Sparta until the sixth minute of injury time at Ibrox on Thursday night and saw out a vital victory. 

“We were holding our own really well,” he said. “Even the players who came in. In the last five minutes we were holding the balls in the corners and they couldn’t get any attacks. But for me it is not about being fitter, it is more about rhythm.

“We play together every three or four days. For me, every game I am going all out. I see this from my team mates. I am really proud of this team and how they battled until the last minute.”

Rangers have now gone six games under Clement without suffering a defeat and Lammers is determined for that run to continue in the final Premiership match before the international break against Livingston on the plastic pitch at the Tony Macaroni Stadium tomorrow.

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“Right now, you can really feel the momentum, it is on our side,” he said. “This is football. We have a game on Sunday and can really finish this period well and get back our energy for the next period.

“Of course, it is different circumstances with the artificial grass, but we should be prepared. I will talk with my team mates. But they have pushed us for weeks, we are ready for this. We have a good momentum, a lot of energy. This should be no problem.”

The Herald: