RANGERS matchwinner Borna Barisic responded to claims he was being frozen out by Steven Gerrard after his free-kick points-clincher against St Mirren in Paisley yesterday.
It looked as though the former Osijek defender had fallen behind Jon Flanagan and Andy Halliday in the left-back pecking order.
The player’s first-team exclusions led to speculation he could be heading for the Ibrox exit in the current transfer window which closes a week today.
But he is adamant there’s no rift with the boss and Barasic, speaking to the Daily Record, insisted: “He speaks a lot to the players and I’ve read sometimes I have problems with the manager.
“That is simply not true. I always speak with him and we have a very good relationship
”I don’t know what people talk about, but I only know I am fully focused on Rangers. I am a Rangers player and that is it.”
The defender relished getting on the scoresheet at last after his effort against St Joseph’s was given to Connor Goldson. There was no denying Barisic this one as his deadball effort ripped high into the Saints’ net with the keeper helpless.
He said: “It was a very special moment for me. Officially, it was my first goal, but I think it was my second! It was the first time I could go straight with the fans and celebrate with them, especially when every point is important.
“It was unbelievable, very nice. I have waited for that moment. When I scored in Gibraltar I couldn’t go to the fans because Connor scored.
“This is my first official goal, so I am very happy. I took the yellow card because of that.”
Barisic is puzzled to the reason it has taken him such a long time to make an impact at Gerrard’s side and added: “It is a hard question, to be honest.
“If you go from my first day at Rangers, everything was new and fine. But then when you have injuries it is very tough and especially when you come from a league like Croatia to Scotland.
“It is a different type and you need to be very prepared physically.
“Last year I wasn’t on that level, but this year I have had a very good pre-season and in Croatia before pre-season I did a lot of training to be on top. Now I just want to play in every game.
“The gaffer gave me a chance to play. Has it been tough? Of course, but that is normal in a career. Sometimes you have a very good day, sometimes no.
“I want to be all the time ready when the boss gives me a chance. We won and that is the most important thing.”
JIM GOODWIN saw his slide lose to Barisic’s wonder strike and, speaking to BBC Sport, said: “I’m frustrated. It took a moment of brilliance for Rangers to eventually break us down.
“I felt, the longer the game went on, it was going to be a free-kick or a penalty that was going to win it because the back four and the midfield two in front of them were excellent.
“We worked all week on stopping Rangers playing through the middle of us and I thought we did that.
“I think we’ve come a long way in a short period of time. I knew that, once we got the players in we needed, we’d be a lot better.”
GARY HOLT watched his Livingston side blow Ross County away in a 4-1 triumph in Dingwall to continue their unbeaten start to the Premiership.
Jon Guthrie, Steven Lawless and Lyndon Dykes all hit the net in a whirlwind period with Ross Stewart pulling one back. Sheffield Wednesday’s on-loan winger Jack Stobbs added a fourth for the visitors.
Livi boss Holt, speaking to BBC Sport, said: “We scored some really good goals. A lot was made of our results away from home and we should have got the monkey off our back last week against St Johnstone, but we did it on this occasion.
“We know Ross County coming up last year, the bubble they’ve had and how difficult it is to come here, but to score four goals, I am delighted.”
STUART KETTLEWELL, the Highland side’s co-manager, also speaking to the BBC, added: “Livi were better from the first minute of the game. They showed energy, they physically dominated us.
“We couldn’t defend our penalty area. Everything we have been praised for this season we couldn’t do. That performance was sub-standard, to say the least.”