Nacho Novo urges Rangers reintroduction for Steven Davis as veteran is labelled club’s best midfielder

Steven Davis may have had to wait two whole months for the chance to make his 699th appearance in club football on Sunday.

But according to his former Rangers team mate Nacho Novo it should only be a matter of days until the veteran midfielder hits the 700 milestone.

Novo is in no doubt the 37-year-old is still the best midfielder at Ibrox. Better than John Lundstram. Better than Glen Kamara. Better even than Aaron Ramsey.

And, while on the subject of numbers, the Spaniard reckons Davis is good enough to play at the top level until he’s 40.

Davis came off the bench to replace injured Lundstram midway through the first half in Gers 4-0 thumping of St Mirren at the weekend and within minutes had shown his class with a perfectly weighted pass to set in motion the move for the killer second goal. It was vintage Davis.

That he hadn’t seen action since the Scottish Cup win at Annan on February 12 was a major talking point for Gers diehards as they fell off the pace in the Premiership.

But Novo – who shared an Ibrox dressing room with the Northern Irishman for two-and-a-half years between 2008 and 2010 – reckons he now can’t be left out over the course of a few weeks which will define the Ibrox club’s season.

It starts against Braga in the Europa League quarter final second leg in Glasgow on Thursday night with Gio van Bronckhorst looking to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit.

That is quickly followed by a colossal Scottish Cup semi final clash with Celtic at Hampden on Sunday.

Then comes the five-game Premiership run in with Gers six points off the pace in the defence of their title.

Fitness prevailing, Novo would start Davis in every one of them.

The Spaniard said: “I’m surprised Steven’s not played a bit more under Giovanni.

“To be honest, he is the best midfielder at Rangers.

“There’s no doubt about it – he can still go. He is so fit he can probably play til he’s 40.

“He is a great player. I don’t know what happens on the training ground or what Gio sees so I can’t comment on why he’s not played so much.

“But if it was down to me – he would play every game.

“He has years left in him. He is fit and dictating games. He is a great player.

“But then maybe I’d need to ask him first because the last time I played I just remember an 18-year-old boy running past me!

“I think he is a great player and is getting better because of the experience has has.

“He has played in the best leagues and I think he will have a big part to play in the remainder of the season.

“I’d like to see him beside Ryan Jack. I love Ryan Jack. And probably Glen Kamara. For me that would be the three.

“The good thing is they have good options in there.”

Rangers are gearing up for their biggest European clash in 14 years – since Novo and Davis played their part in guiding Walter Smith’s Gers on a glorious run all the way to the UEFA Cup Final in Manchester.

Novo slotting home the winning penalty in a nerve-shredding semi-final shoot out with Fiorentina is a moment etched in Ibrox history.

And it’s one the 43-year-old won’t ever forget.

Now he’s among the Light Blue legions praying for another monumental result to carry the current group into the last four of the competition.

He’s confident they can get it and tee themselves up for a crack at BETTERING what his side achieved in 2008.

Novo won three titles, a Scottish Cup and two League Cups with Gers. But, asked if that run to the UEFA Cup Final remains his greatest achievement, he said: “Yes, of course, it’s not every day you are going to a European final.

“It was a great experience. It’s tough when you lose but we played a great side.

“You can never have what you want all the time.

“They are all good memories and memories that will die with me.

“I really enjoyed my time but now I want Rangers to progress and be the best they can be in the league, in Europe and the Scottish Cup.

“Hopefully they can make something special that’s even better than the team I was part of.”

Smith’s side played a draining 68 games in that 2007-08 season as their title tilt wilted amid a pile-up of league, UEFA Cup and Scottish Cup fixtures.

The current group face that same scenario with Thursday’s clash with Braga their 55th game of the campaign.

But Novo insists tiredness can never be used as an excuse for falling short.

He said: “It happened to us when we went to Manchester in 2008. But you have to deal with it.

“That was the first year where we played so many games, I think it was about 70.

“This was tough, we were going the full length in all the competitions. Maybe there was a bit of fatigue but that can’t be an excuse, there are no excuses.”

Meanwhile Novo insists no player at Rangers will think the title race is over – because the Ibrox rulebook doesn’t allow it.

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The Spaniard gave an insight into the demands placed on the playing staff in Govan when quizzed about their hopes of overturning Celtic’s six-point lead in the final five games of the campaign.

Many wrote Gio van Bronckhorst’s side off after last week’s damaging 2-1 home defeat to the Hoops.

The manager himself insisted it wasn’t over. And Novo revealed van Bronckhorst was quoting from an Ibrox code of practice on footballing standards that was handed to every player upon signing by Ibrox great Sandy Jardine.

Novo said: “As soon as I signed for Rangers I remember Sandy Jardine gave me a wee book. It was all about the values of the club.

“It was incredible, it showed you the mentality of the players, how it needed to be.

“It was basically that Rangers need to win .. every game.

“Sometimes you can’t. Celtic will obviously be the same. But the mentality has to be win, win, win.

“I loved playing with that pressure, that was the values of the club – win every time you play.”

With that in mind Novo is a firm believer that the title can still be retained at Ibrox, despite van Bronckhorst’s side needing favours.

He said: “The league title race isn’t over, as you never know what can happen.

“It’s happened before and the team can still win it mathematically.

“They have to take it game by game, win them and see what Celtic can do.

“They have Europe, the semi-final as well as the league but that’s what you want at a club like Rangers.

“You want to be involved in the big games in as many competitions as possible.

“That’s how it should be at Rangers and they should try to win everything.”

• Nacho Novo was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Celtic v Rangers this Sunday from 1pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £9.99 per month and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.

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