CALVIN BASSEY is suddenly a man in the spotlight. A relatively low-key summer arrival from Leicester City’s under-23 squad has been thrust into prominence twice in the past week, first by the long-term injury sustained by Nikola Katic and then after claiming a goal as Rangers opened their pre-season campaign with a win over Hamilton Accies on Friday.

Bassey is an intriguing figure. Born in Italy of Nigerian extraction, the Londoner is still only 20 years old and yet to make his mark on the professional game. Steven Gerrard, however, and his Rangers recruitment team evidently saw sufficient promise to offer him a four-year contract.

Katic’s injury could yet see him pushed into a central defensive role but it is at full-back that the left-footed player is expected to ultimately settle. With Borna Barisic in possession of that jersey, it ought to make for a compelling tussle.

The demands on full-backs have changed enormously over the past decade or so but Bassey is happy to plough up and down the flank all day if required after adapting from his early days as a forward.

“I always played striker when I was younger and then moved to left wing,” he revealed. “I then started going further back because at Leicester there was a need for a left back and sometimes you need to adapt to your environment

“The modern-day full back is different to what it was 10 or 15 years ago and you need quality going forward. But, at the same time, you are a defender first and foremost and have to stop those crosses coming in, get tight to your man and win headers. That’s how football has evolved but ultimately it’s about giving your all. 

“I’m a player who is always open to learning. I’ve had to learn things throughout my career defending-wise whether it’s heading or whatever and that’s always going to be the case as a young player.”

The two players he namechecks as his heroes both embody this new expectation on what every left-back should be able to deliver.

“I used to watch Marcelo at Real Madrid when I was growing up but football has changed a lot in the last few years,” he added.

“Alphonso Davies at Bayern Munich is someone who was a winger but now plays left-back and he has put in some stunning performances.

“But I don’t like to compare myself to anyone as everyone is different. We all have different attributes and we are different shapes and sizes. I try and take the best bits of what I see from other people and add it to my game.”

Both West Ham United and Bayer Leverkusen were credited with an interest in Bassey when it became clear he would be leaving Leicester. He explained why he ended up signing with Rangers.

“It’s not an easy decision to make on your future for someone as young as me but as soon as Rangers came in it was a privilege to join a world-famous club with a lot of history,” he added.

“I took myself out of my comfort zone and moved away from family but you’ve got to make some sacrifices and that’s one of the sacrifices I had to make.

“The gaffer is a legend of the game and it is good to have a manager who has been through what you have as a player. He can relate a bit more to us in some sense. This is a massive club and all the other options left my head the minute Rangers came to the table.”

Bassey has prior experience of an empty Ibrox stadium having played a bounce match there during his time at Leicester. It may come in handy until fans are able to return.

“It was amazing just to play out on the pitch - you felt the history around the stadium,” he added. “Even though there were no fans watching us that day, I imagined what it would be like if there was 50,000 and it would be amazing. It will be bittersweet if I make my competitive debut and there are no fans there but we will just have to wait and see.”

Left-back is just one area to give Gerrard food for thought as he prepares to take his team to France for friendlies against Nice and Lyon this week.

And assistant manager Gary McAllister insisted every fringe player would be given a clean slate to try to show they deserve a regular start.

“As much as lockdown has been horrendous for everybody from every walk of life, for the guys on the edges of the team it might have been a good time for them to actually reflect,” he said.

“Where can they improve and how can they make that push into the team? How can they get into the manager’s eye every day at training and make him pick them? The onus is on them.

“We’re waiting on them and they did have a chance - I think they’ve accepted that. They’ve got to be pushing. It’s competitive to get in the first XI.

“The manager has always got eleven in his mind, but if you’re on the edges of it then you have to impress the manager. They should be looking at the guy who has the number of the shirt they’re after and going “I need to get better at what you’re doing.” It’s pretty simple.”