Steven Gerrard has declared he wants James Tavernier for keeps after hailing the Rangers skipper’s display against Maribor.
The 26-year-old Englishman was the subject of a £1.8million bid from West Brom on the eve of Gers’ Europa League clash with the Slovenians.
But Gerrard, whose first act as Ibrox boss was to hand Tavernier the captain’s armband, rejected the offer after heart-to-heart talks with the right-back.
And the Light Blues manager got his reward for his show of faith as Tavernier led his side through to a 3-1 victory last night that now gives them a golden chance of making the play-offs.
Now Gerrard insists he wants Tavernier, who put Gers back in front with an early second-half penalty, to remain at the club as long as the former England and Liverpool captain does.
“James was magnificent,” he said. “Good players get attention from other clubs.
“I don’t appreciate that attention 24 hours before a big game. I’d like a phone call off of big Darren (Moore, West Brom boss) at some point.
“But James handled it very well and that was probably his strongest performance so far.
“He’s got ability, he’s got power - there is more to come from James. He still has gears to go into. For me, he’s a Premiership footballer. He can play in the Premier League no problem.
“He’s a leader and a very likeable guy in the dressing room.
“People respect him. He’s been through a lot of turbulence in his time at the club but handled it very well. That’s why I gave him the armband.
“James knows what I think of him. It was a big decision to make him captain of this club.
“I speak to him every day. It’s up to James whether he tells you what has been said between us over the past few days but he has my full support.
“I want James Tavernier here as long as I’m here.,” he added.