Livingston striker Ryan Hardie admits he believes he is ready to make an impact at Rangers next season after proving he can handle life in the Premiership.
The 22-year-old has spent the last 18 months on loan at the West Lothian club, firstly helping the Lions achieve promotion through the play-offs last term before playing his part in the team preserving their place in the top-flight.
Hardie was sidelined for the opening five months of the campaign after undergoing an ankle operation last summer but netted five goals in his first six games back in December.
That prompted an invite from Gers manager Steven Gerrard to the Rangers squad’s Tenerife training camp in January, and a new 18-month contract soon followed.
Even though the former Scotland Under-21 internationalist has only added two more goals, Hardie insists his loan stint has been invaluable.
Speaking ahead of today’s clash against relegated Dundee, he said: “The most important thing was to get games again.
“I was out for seven months in total and I only really got my first game on December 5.
“To get a good number of games under my belt was the main priority.
“I got off to a really good start, scoring five in December although I’ve only got another couple.
“But the main thing was to see how I could cope with life in the Premiership and I think I’ve done that really well so far.”
Hardie, who has made two starts and 15 substitute appearances for Rangers since 2014, added: “This has definitely been a real building block in my career, to help them get promoted to the Premiership last season and get the opportunity to play in it for the first time.
“I had some subs appearances for Rangers but nothing in the way of starts and hopefully it will set me up for the future.
“I went out to Tenerife with the Rangers squad in January, I enjoyed it and mixed in really well.
“That’s the aim, to go in and have a really good pre-season and see where it takes me.”
Hardie admits he is also returning to Rangers more street-wise after taking tips, especially when it comes to using his body, from battle-hardened campaigner Lee Miller, 35, at Livingston.
He added: “I think it’s brought out a lot more physicality in me, I felt I needed to get a lot more physical and I feel I’ve done that really well, especially from January onwards.
“It’s been about using the body a lot more rather than running in behind and scoring goals.
“I’ve been doing extra sessions every week working on it, it’s about using the brain to use your body in different ways.
“Lee Miller has been a big mentor for me in that aspect, he has been telling me how to do it and how to use the body.
“He’s been a really big influence on me this year.”