From seven points adrift of Celtic in the title race to two with a game in hand, Kieran Dowell has watched on as Rangers have turned from out-of-sorts also-rans to genuine Premiership contenders.

The difference since Philippe Clement took over from Micheal Beale has been stark with an away draw at Pittodrie the only Rangers dropped points under the Belgian to date.

Unfortunately for former Norwich midfielder Dowell, he's not been able to play his part as Clement has made him wait for an opportunity to show his worth. The midfield is an area where Rangers are particularly strong when everybody is fit and it's been a frustrating period for the 26-year-old who signed in the summer with the intention of becoming a mainstay in Michael Beale's plans.

It's not worked out that way and a combination of injury plus a change of shape under Clement has left him on the outside looking in for a sustained period. But a spate of injuries means that Dowell got his chance to shine in the 2-0 win against St Johnstone and he certainly didn't look out of place. He strolled through the game with an excellent, man-of-the-match winning performance in a slightly deeper role than he's been regularly accustomed to during a career that's mostly seen him used as a creative forward.

“I really enjoyed it," he said enthusiastically. "I had an inkling the day before I would be in the starting XI and I was really excited to be back, especially at Ibrox. I think the manager likes me as a player. The issue was just there were a few players ahead of me in the positions I like to play.

“Obviously, it came up the other night to put me into centre midfield, which I’m happy to do. The manager knows I can play there. It’s just been about being patient and waiting for my chance. Obviously, I’ve been training well and I’m glad I got through the 90 minutes.

“I’d like to think I could play back-to-back. I’ve been working hard in training, making sure I was fit so I can turn out the 90 minutes when called on. We have loads of games coming up so the squad is going to get stretched. We saw Dujon doing well at the weekend, so we have players who can play in those positions.

“The manager has said, every challenge the team has had, we’ve have gotten through it. It’s a testament to the squad."

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One of the impressive elements of Clement's reign has been his ability to make an entire squad feel valued and integral to the bigger picture he's trying to create. Even someone like Dowell, making his first appearance after over two months of the Clement era, has felt he's had a hand in things.

“It’s important what the manager has said about having the guys part of it, even warming up, as you are part of the team. It’s something he’s been really good at. He has made a big thing about the squad being together. That’s really helped us during tough times, when it’s been a crisis if you like and we’ve had a few injuries.

“When you have those moments it brings you together as a squad – 100 per cent. When you know there are tired legs out there, it does help you pull through when you are all in it together as a team. The leaders we have like Connor Goldson, John Souttar and James Tavernier get you through those moments."

A frustrated Clement admitted he was "boiling" with anger over some industrial tackling employed by St Johnstone but refused to explore the topic further in the heat of the moment. As well as the red card challenge by Diallang Jaiyesimi which has left John Lunsdtram sweating on his fitness for the next Old Firm game, the Ibrox manager also felt there was at least one other foul that could have seen similar punishment. Dowell, for his part, is more sanguine and insists it's just the culture of how way play the game in the UK.

“There were a few meaty ones the other night. Obviously, the red card was a bad tackle. I think it’s the same down south in England as well. There are teams that want to disrupt you by making fouls and stuff like that. When teams are better than you, you get frustrated. That’s the case from what we’ve seen at Rangers."

With the League Cup already in the trophy room and Rangers now having the title in their own hands it would be easy for the players to get ahead of themselves. That's not Clement's style though and having won three titles in successive years in Belgium he's well-versed in the pitfalls of hubris when the going is good. And Dowell insists, the only game that's of any importance in the minds of the Rangers squad is the one they face next.

He said: “Since the manager has come in, he’s been very consistent in focusing on ourselves. That is probably why we have done so well. We are only thinking game by game. It’s about the next one. It’s stood us in good stead so far.”