New Rangers recruit Ovie Ejaria says he is ready to handle the Old Firm pressure-cooker after the crushing disappointment of relegation with Sunderland.
The Liverpool midfielder has linked up with former Anfield skipper Steven Gerrard after joining Gers on a one-year loan deal.
He spent the second half of last season at the Stadium of Light but could not prevent the Black Cats suffering demotion to Sky Bet League One.
Ejaria admits that experience has scarred him but the England Under-20 World Cup winner believes the trauma has stiffened his character as he prepares to take on another major test as he joins the Light Blues mission to halt Celtic’s 10-in-a-row push.
“I would say my time at Sunderland has definitely made me mentally stronger,” the 20-year-old told RangersTV: “It was a tough time but the experience has made me better.
“The more games I play at senior level the better I am getting.
“I have watched quite a few Old Firm games on the telly and it is a massive derby.
“I am looking forward to walking out into that atmosphere for the first time, it is going to be a really good feeling.”
Ejaria may have come through Liverpool’s academy but he was not a member of Gerrard’s under-18s squad last term.
However, with plenty of familiar faces from Merseyside now based at Ibrox, he reckons that will help him settle in to life in Glasgow.
Ejaria – who was met by a throng of photographers when he flew into Spain to join his new team-mates at their pre-season training camp – said: “Everyone knows Rangers is a massive club so I am delighted to be here.
“I am not used to this attention so it has been a bit of a shock to me.
“There are a few members of staff who used to be at Liverpool so I spoke to them quite a bit before I came and they influenced my decision. That was a big part in me coming here but also the size of the club.
“I feel comfortable coming here knowing I will have those coaches around me, especially (Gers first-team coach and former Liverpool academy chief) Michael Beale because I have known him for a long time now. They are really good coaches, some of the best I’ve worked with.
“I’m familiar with them and Steven Gerrard was a top-class player so it’s a privilege to be able to learn from him.
“I was very excited when I found out he wanted to bring me to Rangers, coming from him who has played at the top of the game it was brilliant.
“All the lads have been really welcoming so it’s quite easy to come into the group. I knew Jordan Rossiter and Jon Flanagan from Liverpool. It has been good to come in and have people who I can talk to straight away.
“I’m a player who likes to be on the ball, I like to try and make things happen and I’m comfortable on the ball.
“Hopefully if I work hard in pre-season then I’ll get my opportunities to show what I can do.”