Michael Beale spoke of Antonio Colak’s “infectious” energy after the striker grabbed a double in Rangers’ 4-1 cinch Premiership win over Hibernian on Wednesday night.
The Croatia striker has struggled with fitness since Beale took over as boss from Giovanni van Bronckhorst in November but he came back into the side for the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at the weekend.
Despite not scoring against Killie, Colak kept his place for the trip to Easter Road and repaid Beale’s faith with a brace as a James Tavernier penalty and a Fashion Sakala strike rendered Connor Goldson’s early own goal academic.
The 29-year-old has scored 17 goals in 34 appearances this season and Beale spoke of his “natural enthusiasm” as the Rangers manager reflected on an impressive performance.
He said: “He goes and presses and works for his team-mates. He is part of the team. I am delighted for him because he didn’t score at the weekend and his whole game is not about scoring goals.
“Some of his link play, his movement, he is infectious in terms of his energy.
“He has not been able to show me what he has because he got injured before I came in and he has been playing bit parts here and there.
“The last few weeks he has started to look really fit, his personality has come out in the group. I am delighted for him.
“I thought him and Fashion Sakala as a front two were really good, Ryan Kent behind, Todd Cantwell and Nico Raskin got up to the game, Ryan Jack was outstanding.
“I thought it was a really top performance and you could see that with the way the stadium was at the end. The home fans had obviously left so we had been dominant in the game.”
Beale stressed that work continues to go on at the club’s training centre to adapt and improve as he turned his attention to the Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against Raith Rovers at Ibrox on Sunday.
He said: “We have been working on something else behind the scenes in terms of the way we want to play and the energy we want up the pitch and a different shape.
“It is just finding the moment when because we are in the middle of a busy schedule.
“We won 3-1 at the weekend and were 3-0 up at half-time, on Wednesday we have scored four goals and we have got a big cup quarter-final coming up.
“Although we are working on other things behind the scenes, at the moment what we are actually doing is very good anyway.
“That is seven away wins consecutively. It is not easy to do that. All we can do is, as a team, keep trying to get better.
“Sometimes I am a bit bemused by the belief is not there because when they actually play how I know they can they look a very good team.”
With Viaplay Cup winners Celtic still nine points clear at the top of the table, Rangers’ best chance of a trophy is the Scottish Cup and Beale admits it is a “huge priority”.
He said: “Every game is at the moment, I need to see certain things every game, I need to feel the energy in the group and in the style.
“A lot is said about style but I think it comes off the back of hard work, cohesion and organisation.
“It is a real big step in the right direction, it’s now up to the players to stay there.”