Niko Katic insists he’s working around the clock to prove to himself he’s ready for a Champions League tilt and is leaving last season’s bittersweet campaign behind.
The Croatian suffered a heartbreaking knee injury during last preseason training which ruled him out for the entire term.
He admitted it was a painful experience as the 24-year-old watched the story unfold behind the scenes.
But he was still thrilled for his teammates as they lifted the club’s first Scottish Premiership trophy in a decade.
Now Katic is aiming to put a hell of a year of injury behind him and show Steven Gerrard he’s fit enough to play his role.
Cap said, âI’m desperate, honestly. I have lost so much with my injury that I am desperate to play and so excited.
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âI give 24 hours a day to be so ready to help the team and to prove to the manager and the fans how ready I am.
âIt’s been so long out of the squad and I’m struggling with a tough injury, but I’m happy it’s behind me and I’m ready to go back with the squad.
âOn the one hand, it was really difficult and painful not to be part of it (last season) but on the other hand, I was really happy for the team.
âI’ve been here for three years with them and I know how much effort they put in every day and how hard they’ve worked to be there. I was so happy with them when they got there.
Katic has admitted his finance debt to the club for helping him during his downtime, especially in a year unlike any other with the pandemic.
He told Rangers TV: âThe club was great. I will always be grateful for this support from the staff, medical staff and my teammates.
âEveryone was really good with me, they all knew I was facing tough times. The club has always found a way to help me, make me positive and connect with my family.
“We all know how difficult it was to travel last season so they always did their best to make me happy and I will always be grateful to them.”
The Gers are returning to the Champions League stage for the first time in a decade and Katic is hoping that can help him find his way into the Croatian national team on a regular basis.
He pointed to Ibrox pal Borna Barisic, saying: âBorna is an example that playing for Rangers can make you play for the national team, no matter how big the competition is.
“The Rangers get better every year and I expect them to be among the best in the years to come.”
Fellow Nikica Jelavic was a fan hero while at Ibrox and Katic shared images on social media of the couple together.
And he said, âNikica is a very good friend of mine. Every time I go to Zagreb, I see him there. He always praises the Rangers.
“He said it was the best club he’s played with and we all know he’s played with good clubs in his career, always praises the fans and he said he really enjoyed it his stay here when they won the league.
“He always tried to give me advice on how to act here and how to play so that we have a really good connection.”
Dado Prso is another Croatian who turned out to be a huge hit from Ibrox and Katic admitted: âWhen I got there and saw the names that were here before me, it puts some pressure on you to make your own. evidence as they have done here.
“We have a very good relationship with Scotland and the Croatian players appreciate it here and me too.”
Scottish football is hoping fans return through the turnstiles at the start of the new season, with Euro 2020 matches in Hampden hoping to pave the way for a safe return for fans.
Katic said: âWe have all seen the Euro and how important it is to play in front of the fans, especially this year as the club turns 150.
âIt will be really important to have fans there because that’s why we play football, we play football for them.
“When they’re there it just makes it better, we’re excited and that will help us perform better on the pitch.”