SCORING his first goal for Premiership champions Rangers in their 1-1 draw with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday evening was a significant milestone for Scott Wright.

Derek McInnes, who witnessed Wright overcome many substantial obstacles as he matured into a formidable first team performer at Aberdeen, is confident there are many more to come.

McInnes, a former Ibrox midfielder himself, appreciates just how difficult it will be for his protege to establish himself in Steven Gerrard’s side given the quality of player he is vying with for a starting spot and the intense scrutiny he is under.

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However, he saw first hand at Pittodrie how the gifted 23-year-old bounced back after suffering a cruciate ligament injury last season and recovered from a hernia problem this term.

And he is certain the winger, who made his first start for the Glasgow giants in their 4-0 win over Cove Rangers in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup earlier this month, has both the ability and the mental fortitude required to succeed.

“Scott would probably say he has a lot to do to become a regular starter in that Rangers team,” he said. “But that was his first league start and he got his first goal.  

“It’s always important for any attacking player to try and show they get among the goals. And it’s important for any player going to a new club to try and prove their worth quickly. 

“He’s had some good minutes coming off the bench and shown the management team what he is capable of. It’s good for wee Scott to come in and get that goal. 

“I think he’s got a lot to offer. I was wanting him to be part of my team for the rest of the season because I could see that his speed and creativity would certainly help Aberdeen. But he’s gone to Rangers in the January window. And I think he’s gone there with a real purpose to impress right away. 

“I know Stevie has been really pleased with his attitude and how he’s approached it. He’s working with good people there. He’s got a job on his hands to become a regular at Rangers, but that is the challenge for him.” 

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McInnes added: “I believe he’s a confident boy. It is a part of it. It’s not just being a good player that is enough to survive at clubs like Rangers. You have to be able to deal with the criticism, the scrutiny and the pressure when it comes on. Only time will tell with that.  

“When it’s 0-0 after 60 or 70 minutes and 50,000 fans are clearly not happy, you need to have the personality to deal with that and the confidence to still go and grab the game and keep wanting the ball. 

“Scott has always been eager to show. Me and Scott still speak about something said by one of the old Aberdeen scouts who got him in the door. We used to tell him to stick in until you stick out. That was the approach. Do that and in time people would see his qualities. 

“Dealing with adversity and scrutiny is part and parcel of being an Old Firm player. But you also get the benefit of playing in front of 50,000 and alongside good players. He has an opportunity to go and flourish.”

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Wright, who made his debut in senior football at the age of just 16 in a Europa League qualifier way back in 2014, sprang to prominence four years ago when he scored a hat-trick for Aberdeen in a 6-0 triumph over Partick Thistle in a league game at Firhill.

However, the former Scotland Under-21 internationalist had to overcome his fair share of adversity to win his dream £150,000 move to Rangers back in February. McInnes believes the setbacks he has endured will stand him in good stead for the challenges which he faces in Govan.

“The cruciate injury he had was really the defining moment for him,” he said. “He was out for the whole of last season really with that. He came back strong. His body shape had changed. He also had a different perspective.

“Sometimes when football is taken away from you for a long time as a young player you can reassess and show that gratitude for the opportunity you have got. It’s the best job in the world. I’m not saying that he did take it for granted, but sometimes it is easy to do that.

“Being out for a long period made him appreciate what he has, the talent he has got and make him determined to fulfil that. But also to make up for last time. He started the season for us really well.

“He has not had his problems to seek. But that is part and parcel of football. Sometimes injuries come early in your career, sometimes they come late in your career. But he is young enough and he has shown enough responsibility, the discipline to work hard, the mental strength to come through these injuries.

“And we are seeing him develop. It is all part of the process for him. I think there is a lot more to come from Scott. He is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him.”

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McInnes, who parted company with Aberdeen after eight years in charge last month, was disappointed to lose Wright to Rangers, who play St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at home on Sunday, back in February.

But he believes spending the second half of the 2020/21 season will prove invaluable to the wide man and expects him to stake a strong claim for a start at Ibrox when next term gets underway.  

“Getting that move in January was really good for Scott and Rangers,” he said. “They come back into European competition pretty quickly next season. There will be a benefit from that settling-in period.  

“You see a lot of the big clubs making signings in January that are not necessarily for the here and now, it’s to be ready fully for the following campaign.” 


“Derek McInnes was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Rangers v St Johnstone this Sunday from 6pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player. Prices start from £10.99 per month.”