THE rumours about his future at Rangers which have continued to circulate in the build-up to the Scottish Cup final could quite easily have proved distracting for James Tavernier.

Suggestions that his former manager Steven Gerrard, who is now in charge at Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia, is poised to table a multi-million pound bid for right-back Tavernier and his team mate Connor Goldson this summer have persisted in recent weeks despite the player stating last month that he is fully committed to the Govan club.

However, the Ibrox captain, who will lead his side out to face Celtic in the final of the Scottish Gas-sponsored competition at Hampden this afternoon, is quite accustomed to such stories after spending nine years in the Glasgow “goldfish bowl”.

He has, not surprisingly with Viaplay Cup winners Rangers having the chance to complete a double today, not allowed any external noise to deflect his attention away from the immediate task and in hand.

But the Englishman, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year and whose long service is poised to be rewarded with a testimonial next year, reiterated that he fully intends to honour his current deal and stressed he has more, much more, which he wants to achieve in this country.     

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“It’s speculation that’s been around my name for quite a while now so it’s nothing new,” he said. “I have two seasons left and I am fully focused with the job in hand. That’s performing for Rangers.

“There is always going to be speculation in football, regardless of which player it is. It’s down to the individual to knuckle down and fully focus on the job in hand. As a whole, as a club, we want to win more trophies and that’s our aim.

The Herald: “I think I’ll always have unfinished business until I hang up my boots. Just to prove to myself. Just to better myself each year and be the best version of myself. That would be my first and foremost commitment to everything.”

Tavernier has a great deal to prove today. His form left much to be desired as Rangers collapsed during the title run-in and allowed Celtic to lift the cinch Premiership trophy for a third successive year. He has to up his game considerably to silence his critics.

His team, too, have to show they have the ability and mentality to defeat their city rivals and failing to prevail in their last 10 meaningful encounters. The defender believes they have to show the same ruthlessness as their ancient adversaries in the final third and take collective responsibility both up front and at the back.

“We’ve spoken about it,” he said. “It’s the finer details in these matches. The chances you know you have to take. If you are creating chances, you need to take them. They might have a couple of chances and they might put them into the back of the net.

“These games, and indeed any high calibre games you play, it’s all about the moments and we have to be really focused on those moments. We are all a team and we’ll take it on the chin as a team.

“If it’s me kicking off (Daizen) Maeda and it goes into the net or if it’s one of our attackers who has missed a chance, we will all take it as a team. We will never individualise anyone. We try to improve each other so when we do get asked the question on the pitch it’s about taking it.

“First and foremost it’s about winning. It doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win the game. That’s our aim, to win this game no matter what style we have to play. You want to play pretty football, but at the end of the day it’s about winning the game and picking up that trophy.”

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The 32-year-old has only managed to lift three major trophies – the Premiership in 2021, the Scottish cup in 2022 and the League Cup in 2023 since moving to Scotland in 2015 – and he confessed that he is desperate to add to his personal haul.

“You want to try and pick up as many trophies as you can,” he said. “Your main aim is obviously the league and we fell short in various games throughout the season, which we know. But if we can pick ourselves up and win two trophies it is obviously a good start and obviously one we can build from.

“I would have loved to have won Seville (the Europa League final in 2022) to be fair. That is one that you feel really got away. You lose on penalties so that is one that will probably haunt me.

The Herald: “You never want to miss out on trophies when you play for Rangers, you want to win as many trophies as possible. But it comes down to us at the end of the day to earn that right of winning the trophies. We obviously want to put that right this weekend by winning another trophy and moving on from there.”

Many of Tavernier’s team mates will be moving on to pastures new after today’s game – Leon Balogun, Borna Barisic Ryan Jack, John Lundstram, Jon McLaughlin and Kemar Roofe are all out of contract and a few others are sure to be moved on as manager Philippe Clement oversees a major rebuild.

But the Rangers skipper still feels that a victory over Celtic will still give the Ibrox club a platform to build on in the 2024/25 campaign even if there are numerous departures and arrivals.

“Next season is going to be a bit different,” he said. “That’s football. You gain players, you lose players. But it’s going to be a proper pre-season under the manager which we are all looking forward to. It’s about moving forward and going from strength to strength.

“We have fallen short in the league, it is the last game where we can pick up a trophy and potentially have two trophies from the season to take yourself into the summer. You can build on that. It is obviously one last push from them, from everybody who is going to be involved next season.”