STEVEN Gerrard has backed Josh Windass to prove his doubters wrong after the forward was singled out by fans at Ibrox on Thursday night.

Windass struggled to make an impact against Macedonian minnows FC Shkupi in Rangers’ 2-0 win in Europa League qualifying, missing several clear-cut chances on what was a frustrating night for the former Accrington Stanley man.

To top things off, the 24-year-old was substituted on 79 minutes, with an ironic cheer coming from the home support as his number was held up on the touchline.

Flak from the Ibrox support is nothing new for Windass. In February, after receiving abuse from the stands in a game against Partick Thistle, he appeared to tell fans to shut up during a goal celebration.

Gerrard admitted to being aware of the negative vibes flowing towards the Englishman, who was unconventionally played out on the right, as he was removed during Thursday’s first round first leg. But despite still getting to know him and the rest of the squad, the new Rangers manager reckons he has already seen enough character in him to shrug the attention off.

“Josh will play in different positions. I’ve told the other players that, we don’t say this is your position and you’re only going to play there,” Gerrard said. “We will play different systems and formations. If we feel Josh is the best man for a certain role in the team he’ll play.

“I thought he worked his socks off and could easily have come off the pitch with a couple of goals. I felt the reaction when he came off. Josh will deal with that, he’s a strong lad and the only way to win over fans is to score goals.

“I’ve known him for three-and-a-half weeks. I’m still trying to work out the character of not just him but a lot of them. We are getting used to each other, we are building relationships. What I will say is he has applied himself very, very well since day one.”

The frustration coming from the stands towards not just Windass but the Rangers team was reflected in the mood of their manager. The word “satisfactory” was used several times by Gerrard, but it was clear the energy, effort and enthusiasm of his side did not completely mask the deficiencies of the team as they failed to completely put the tie to bed.

“We all know what’s going to come. That’s what you sign up to,” said Gerrard ahead of Tuesday’s return in Skopje. “These fans love it. They are desperate for goals and desperate to be entertained and win games. So are we, we all feel it on the sides.

“But I think the fans would have gone away probably feeling exactly like I did: pleased with a lot of it but saying to themselves we should have won it by three or four. You saw players who were trying to force the play and players that are trying to impress and get in the headlines for the right reasons.

“It’s very difficult to criticise that. It comes from honesty and the players wanting to do well for this club and for me. We just need to sometimes relax. Sometimes when you force it you become a bit disjointed and I felt that’s the way we were in the first half. In the second we were more controlled, passed the ball better and we created better chances.”

One man who will have an idea what to expect on Tuesday night is midfielder Ryan Jack, who was a second-half substitute on Thursday. As well as being one of Pedro Caixinha’s group that flopped in Luxembourg a year ago at this stage, he travelled to Macedonia in 2015 as an Aberdeen player when the Pittodrie side faced Shkendija.

It has been a tough year for the 26-year-old, who missed the second half of the season through injury. Moving to his boyhood heroes was a dream come true for the midfielder, but it is only now he feels that the club will get to see what he has to offer.

“It was obviously a tough night,” said Jack of Aberdeen’s 1-1 draw three years ago. “Hot conditions, good pitch, good stadium. I’m looking forward to it. When you go away on European trips it’s always great, but it’s only great if you go over, do your job and win the game.

“It’s been a long year. When you get injured and you’re out for six months it’s frustrating and tough, but I’ve worked as hard as I can to get back for pre-season and I’ve worked as hard as I can in pre-season itself. I feel as fit as ever, and the only thing I’m missing is the football, the minutes. Hopefully that will come.

“It’s been a bit up and down for me personally since I’ve been here. After my injury, it was a case of getting back fit and getting that fresh start. Thursday night was the start of it. Two goals, a clean sheet and first win together as a squad and staff.”