By Craig Turnbull
Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn says he’ll reserve judgement on controversial midfielder Joey Barton until he has signed for the club.
Burnley’s Barton is weighing up a move to Ibrox after Light Blues boss Mark Warburton identified him as a priority target.
Barton is no stranger to controversy having been twice convicted by the courts of acts of violence and has been charged three times by the FA for acts of violent conduct.
Warburton has stressed he would never bring in anyone to the club who he thought might disrupt the harmony of the dressing room and Waghorn says he is willing to give Barton a chance to prove himself if he does sign.
“You don’t know [what he’s like] until he is here,” he said.
“You can’t judge somebody on what they’ve done in the past; you can only see what he’s like as a person.
“He’s a character and he’s known for winding people up and getting under their skin but that’s on the pitch.
“Obviously people are opinionated and have their view but you can’t judge him until he’s in and around the boys.
“Yeah he’s had troubles in the past so has everyone and you’ve just got to get on with it.”
Rangers have also been linked with Barton’s former QPR team-mate Niko Kranjcar and Waghorn believes being associated with players of that calibre is evidence of the club’s progress.
“The quality of the two players is different class. I think they’ve shown over the years what they’ve done in the Premier League,” he said.
“They’ve got a huge amount of experience so it’s only a positive, the club’s going in the right direction to attract players like that.
“Competition in the squad is key if you’re going to be in Europe – it’s numbers from one to 20.
“It’s huge to get a good enough squad to compete on four or five different levels so to be attracting players like that is a good sign for the club and we’re going in the right direction.”
Waghorn says he’s “raring to go” for the Scottish Cup final against Hibernian on Saturday and the chance to complete a treble in his first season at the club.
“Every player in a Cup final dreams of scoring a last-minute goal or if you’re a goalkeeper saving a penalty.
“I’ve dreamt about it and in the last couple of days I’ve been like a big kid getting excited for the game and dreaming of picking up a trophy.
“I know it’s going to be a tough ask but if we play our game then we should be OK but anything can happen in a final.”