Exclusive: Top pundit won over by Rangers 22-yr-old he feared wouldn't make Ibrox cut
Noel Whelan has admitted he is buzzing for Ianis Hagi after scoring for Rangers against Lech Poznan on Thursday night.
The former Aberdeen and Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, revealed he had doubts over the 22-year-old’s ability to cut it at Ibrox but insisted his close-range finish will do him the world of good.
The Romania international nodded the ball in on the line after Connor Goldson’s header ricocheted off the post to wrap up a 2-0 victory for the Light Blues.
The attacking midfielder, who signed permanently for Rangers this summer, has been in and out the side under Steven Gerrard due to form and rotation.
Whelan admitted he was starting to question if the young talent was going to make the grade at Ibrox and suggested his goal could help give him the confidence needed to boost his performances.
“Hagi scored as well, we were questioning if he had the ability to do it, he’s come in and responded in the perfect way with a goal,” Whelan told Football Insider.
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“That in itself will keep giving you that belief, that hope and hunger to keep being in the side because you’ve had that feeling, you’ve had that elation of scoring again and that buzz inside your buddy, it’s like a drug, you want more of it.
“He’ll be pushing really hard to be starting the next time and again, it’s all about putting pressure on the manager, having these options, knowing someone’s come in and done a job.
“It’s something that’s a positive that nobody is sulking, whinging, everyone’s riding that crest and enjoying it.”
Hagi has started 15 times in 20 appearances across all competitions for the Light Blues, with Thursday’s header his second goal of the campaign.
However, he has only been named among the starting XI twice in the least eight Premiership games, while he was also left as an unused substitute in the three Europa League matches prior to Thursday.