Frustration is the overriding emotion when Kieran Dowell reflects on his first season at Rangers. A missed opportunity to seize the league crown and the inability to feature regularly under Michael Beale or Philippe Clement, it simply felt like everything was going against the 26-year-old.

First announced back in May 2023, Dowell was the first signing of the Beale era at Rangers but the early optimism and excitement quickly waned after an opening-day defeat to Kilmarnock was followed by a lengthy spell out injured.

A return in December looked to be a fresh start for the midfielder - who was shoehorned into learning a box-to-box role - especially after netting against Motherwell. But, again, injury issues conspired against Dowell who would miss the next ten league matches after surgery. 

"It was just so frustrating. Really frustrating.," admitted Dowell as he looked back on a difficult start at Ibrox. "Obviously, I was learning a new position as a central midfielder which I hadn’t really played before. That was due to availability and stuff but in amongst that there were injuries, which was so frustrating. But I’m feeling good now.

"I’m feeling fresh, I’ve had a good rest over the summer and I’m fighting fit now."

Quizzed on circumstances going against him, including a rare start in the defeat to Ross County as well as injury following his strike against Motherwell, Dowell continued:  "That (against Ross County) was obviously a tough day for every player on the pitch.

"I started that game but I don’t think anyone really had a great game that day. You end up suffering because of that - it happens but that’s football.

"You end up out of the team and the only thing to do then is to keep training and keep working hard.

"Yeah, that’s how it went - but that’s football for you. You can sulk all you want about it but it’s happened, I’m past it and feeling strong again. "

Dowell is currently with his Rangers team-mates in the Netherlands and featured in the 0-0 draw with Standard Liege on Wednesday. And, with a full pre-season in the tank come competitive action, the midfielder is confident Rangers supporters will see his true quality.

"I’d like to think so," he said when asked if the best is yet to come from him in a Rangers shirt. "I didn’t start many games last season. I think it was four or five games.

"There weren’t many appearances either. They’ve not seen the best of me. They’ve not seen much of me in fact. Hopefully, they can in this coming season."

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While not involved as much as he - or either of his managers - would have liked last term, Dowell still felt the agonising pain as the league title slipped away. Rangers had been written off in some quarters before Clement's arrival but had snatched a lead heading into the business end of the season.

To see the Scottish Premiership title then disappear out of reach was just as frustrating as his own fitness issues last season for Dowell.

He said: "We’ve had a short break, we’ve freshened up and the lads are focused again on getting right back at it. Obviously, every season is a massive season for this club but hopefully we can do well.

"The biggest lesson is to realise that we’re never out of it. With the start we had last year and losing the manager who signed me, everyone thinks it’s all over.

"You see the press and it seems like it’s done - but it wasn’t. It was back in our hands by the end of the season. So you just never know when you’re out of it.  

"I was probably, in my first season, thinking ‘we are off it here’ and we weren’t. Obviously, you want a fast start but it is a long season as well."

Understandably, Dowell is now raring to go at Rangers following a false start, of sorts, last season and is confident he will progress under Clement this season.

"He is a really good coach in training and he helps you a lot," said Dowell of the Belgian manager. "He has taught me a lot about learning new roles as a central midfielder. He has added a few strings to my bow already, which is great.

"He wants you to play, he encourages you to try stuff. He is a good manager."

Dowell might not have enjoyed the sparkling first season at Rangers he had envisioned, however, off the pitch he was delighted to become a father to baby boy Artie.

"It has been busy," he said of becoming a father. "I have got a little boy, born in Glasgow. A little Rangers fan. He is only six months.

"I think I have always been quite good at not taking [football matters] it home. It is good to have him to switch off. 

"We keep in touch. He doesn’t understand FaceTime! My partner sends loads of pictures."