In the second of our features on the first team we were given some time with Rangers American international James Sands. It was a pleasure to speak with James who has had a quiet but assuring pre season.
Versatile, the all action American has his sights firmly set on playing for the national team especially with the World Cup looming large this November. But, first of all, he speaks passionately about his intentions of nailing down a starting place for Rangers.
He’s a well educated and well spoken young man, very grounded but obviously focused and determined to make his impact. He speaks of his delight at having a proper ‘off season’ and working with the manager to implement his ideas.
We have only seen fleeting glimpses of Sands, his best most probably in a 0-3 cup victory in Dundee. He has looked assured at centre back in pre season and with his natural ability on the ball he is very comfortable at playing out from the back. He was involved in beating the press for Rangers second goal against West Ham, last Tuesday, using the ball expertly to spring Rangers clear.
He is currently on loan from New York City in the MLS with Rangers having an agreement to buy the player should they wish to make the move permanent.
He will be featuring more this season, both in defence and midfield and I was keen to ask James on his Rangers future, as well as who was in contact from his native land. I include the questions from Heart and Hand as fan media spoke with our eloquent star.
‘James, in terms of your first six months here, how much have you enjoyed that and have you thought about winning a permanent move here and is it something you would like to do?’
“Obviously I would love it! It’s a big club you know and anybody would be lucky to play here. A little bit is out of your hands, you have to be performing and playing well to earn that opportunity.
As I said a lot of it is out with my control so I’m just going to focus on playing football and doing my best”
‘We’ve had some top class Americans here at Rangers including the likes of Carlos Bocanegra, did you get any advice (before your move) on Rangers and do they keep in contact?’
“When I was signing here I spoke to Claudio Reyna quite a bit, I’m very good friends with his son Gio.
He spoke a lot about the passion and intensity, from the fans especially, but in a good way so it was all positive.
I also had a nice message from Maurice Edu and he was very enthusiastic so yeah I’ve had a lot of Americans reaching out!”
‘The manager spoke about the match at the weekend and wanting to be brave on the ball and try to beat the press, what are the advantages of playing that way in a game like that?’
“Yeah I think for pre season it’s all about developing and getting better, getting reps against quality opposition.
So I think what the boss is trying to say is if we can be confident on the ball and play well against one of the best teams in the world, then we should have no problems doing it in the league or against some teams who (naturally) don’t have the same quality”
‘In terms of playing out of the back, there seems to be a real emphasis on that this season. We have seen Connor Goldson have that responsibility, is that a big focus in training?’
“Yeah definitely! Like I said there is definitely things the boss has been emphasising in pre season.
Building out from the back has been one of them, keeping control of the ball and using it positively has definitely been a big emphasis from the boss this pre season.
I think you’ll see the team start to do that a lot more”