THE manager of the Romanian national team, Mirel Radoi, has leapt to the defence of Rangers midfielder Ianis Hagi after the 21-year-old's recent international displays were criticised in his homeland.

Hagi played in his country's 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland over the international break, with the playmaker being substituted around 10 minutes into the second half and was left on the bench for Romania's 3-2 away victory in Austria a few days later.

The midfielder's display against Ian Baraclough's men led to Hagi's international performances being put under the microscope back home, but Radoi has insisted he has "total confidence" in the player, adding that Hagi has often played out of position for the national team and that he had to be brought off against Northern Ireland as he had been booked.

He told Romanian news outlet Digisport: "We know who Gheorghe Hagi was and we expect Ianis to be the same.

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"After the first game [against Northern Ireland], he got a yellow card. He made two fouls and at one point the fourth official looked at me. I interpreted it as a sign that it would be good to take him off.

"Then with Austria, two changes were caused by injuries, and the tactical plan had to be changed. I don't think it is Ianis' faut that we did not beat Northern Ireland.

"Ianis is an important player of the national team. In his last game for Rangers, even after this pressure, he went very relaxed, he played very well and he was one of the people who decided the victory.

"In Ianis' 11 games now [for Romania], he has only played through the middle maybe once. He played in a 4-3-3, both wide left and wide right.

"We cannot accuse him of playing only number 10 and not delivering any assists. I see him as a number 10 and that's why I used him in the first game like that."