Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister has advised James Tavernier to turn criticism into a motivating tool as he backed his skipper to win over the fans.
Manager Steven Gerrard urged supporters to lay off Tavernier after the right-back missed his third penalty of the season during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Motherwell.
Gerrard felt sections of the Ibrox crowd were making life difficult for the full-back by groaning at over-hit crosses and could offer him more support.
Tavernier came under fire earlier this month after his error led to a stoppage-time defeat against Young Boys in the Europa League.
McAllister’s own career was profoundly affected by jeers from his own fans.
The former Motherwell, Leicester, Leeds and Coventry midfielder retired from international duty in April 1999 at the age of 34 after being booed by some Scotland fans during a defeat by the Czech Republic at Celtic Park.
McAllister went on to show the Scotland support what they were missing, signing for Liverpool in 2000 and playing a key role in them winning a cup treble in his first season.
“I’ve had similar circumstances but you can use that criticism as a wee bit of incentive to show people,” said McAllister ahead of Wednesday’s trip to face Ross County.
“He is working extremely hard but if you can show your team-mates and fans that you are grafting for the jersey, you will soon win them back. And I’m sure he has won them back already.
“From the minute we arrived here he has been particularly outstanding – very robust, he has hardly missed a training session and been available for nearly every game.
“That’s something you have got to be able to produce when you wear the armband, someone who is reliable.
“He has come in for wee bits of criticism but he can cope. It goes with the territory.”
When asked how to deal with the criticism, McAllister said: “Backing yourself, always trusting your own ability, and knowing you have good team-mates behind you as well.
“As a management staff we fully trust the guy. He has our backing and I’m sure the fans will get behind him.
“He is a player who is very pivotal and influential in our tactic and discipline. He is a top player.”
However, McAllister stopped short of giving Tavernier a vote of confidence over penalty duties.
Gerrard admitted on Sunday he would consider his penalty taker after the 27-year-old hit the post against Motherwell to make it three misses from five this season. He netted 14 from 16 attempts last term.
McAllister said: “I will not be telling Ross County who is taking our penalties, I’m afraid. The situation has been spoken about obviously but I am not giving anything away. Time will tell.”
A midweek trip to Dingwall will be new to many of the Rangers players and the Ladbrokes Premiership newcomers collected their 13th point of the season on Saturday when they came from two down to claim a draw against Hibernian.
But McAllister believes the environment will suit Rangers.
“The surface at Dingwall, I have been up there with previous work on the television, is a great pitch,” he said.
“(Chairman) Roy MacGregor at Ross County has always invested pretty heavily on the pitch because of the extreme weather conditions, and the pitch always plays extremely well. And that suits us.”