15 Dec Hodson fights for his place
Lee Hodson reckons he will have a fight on his hands to keep his Rangers slot – because he is up against the two best full-backs in Scotland.
The Northern Ireland defender has been forced to play understudy to Ibrox skipper Lee Wallace and James Tavernier for most of the season.
But he has helped Mark Warburton’s men pick up their two best results of the campaign so far after forcing his way into the team for Gers’ victories over Aberdeen and Hearts.
Tavernier was given a rare start in midfield for last weekend’s win over the Jambos but Hodson knows his preferred position is the right-back slot he has been filling.
Now, with the Hogmanay Old Firm showdown looming in a fortnight’s time, the 25-year-old realises he will have to scrap to stay in the team.
Speaking ahead of Friday’s trip to Hamilton, he said: “I am really enjoying it, everyone wants to get game time and I have managed to play the last two games and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The best thing of all was that we got the results we wanted.
“It is healthy for the squad to have competition all over the park and I think we have that throughout the squad, not just in the full-back position.
“We have a big squad and everyone is fighting for their place.
“I knew it would be difficult coming here with two top-quality full-backs – the two best in the league – but that’s what it is about coming to a new club.
“But I have worked hard and know I need to fight to get my chance.”
Hodson spent most of his first three months at Ibrox warming the bench before being given a surprise start in the Betfred Cup semi-final with Celtic.
Gers were sunk by a last-gasp Moussa Dembele winner at Hampden but that first derby experience has only given Hodson a taste for more as attention starts to turn to their next meeting in Govan on December 31.
“It was my first Old Firm game at Hampden,” he said. “The result was disappointing but it was a fantastic game to play in, the atmosphere and everything about it meant it was the sort of game I have never played in.
“It was disappointing to come out of the team after the semi-final but I didn’t dwell on it. I thought I’d just get back out on the training field, carry on working hard and I knew I’d get another chance.
“When you are out of the team you just have to take your next chance and I am enjoying the spell I am having at the moment and I just have to keep performing.
“Everyone wants to play in big games but my head isn’t on the Old Firm at the moment, it’s on Friday night and personally I take it game by game.
“I’ll see how it goes but hopefully if I keep my head down, keep working hard and keep performing then I can carry on in the team.”
Tavernier’s costly mistakes in Rangers’ 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle last month cost him his berth against the Dons.
The attack-minded Englishman was twice caught out of position, leaving Robbie Muirhead to tuck away a costly double.
B ut Hodson proved he has found the correct balance between attack and defence as he fired the crucial second goal in the 2-1 win over Derek McInnes’ team.
However, Hodson is pleased to see his right-back rival fight his way back into Warburton’s line-up.
“I’m probably a wee bit more defensively minded but I get forward when I can,” said the ex-MK Dons defender. “The manager’s instructions are probably the same as they would be to Tav when he is playing, we just go out there, do what we do and we know as a team what we need to do.
“Tav is a top-quality full-back and he can clearly play in other positions so he is very versatile, he can play centre-mid, right wing and obviously full-back.
“I thought he was excellent in the middle of the park against Hearts and that is another position he can play, it is down to the manager where we play .”