Joe Garner's Rangers absence represents an excellent opportunity for Martyn Waghorn

Rangers' Martyn Waghorn scores their second goal from the penalty spot

Waghorn has struggled to score or start this season but the latter should change at least.

Martyn Waghorn might not be the most prolific of goal-scorers but he could become essential for Rangers in the coming weeks.

The former Sunderland youngster has only found the back of the net three times in 15 Scottish Premiership appearances this season as Rangers failed to cling on to Celtic’s coattails, with manager Mark Warburton apparently unconvinced by his 26-year-old attacker.

After all, you do not leave a player out of the starting XI for nine consecutive weeks if he is a crucial part of your plans, with the Daily Record claiming that Bristol City and Derby County were keen on handing him a route back into the English game.

However, although his contract is due to expire in 18 months and there has been no initial movement on an extension, Waghorn, to his credit, has not expressed any desire to leave. Quite the opposite in fact.

Rangers' Martyn Waghorn (L) in action with Kilmarnock's Steven Smith

“I am more than happy at Rangers. I am playing for my position and I want to get back in the starting line-up and play as well as I can,” he told the Daily Record last month.

“I have targets and I want to win as many trophies as I can at this club."

Silverware may well be beyond reach this season with Celtic 19 points clear with a game in hand but at least Waghorn is safe in the knowledge that his game time is set to increase.

According to the Scottish Sun, first-choice centre forward Joe Garner could be out for up to three months after dislocating his shoulder in the Old Firm derby defeat to Celtic on New Year’s Day, meaning Warburton needs Waghorn to step up to the plate as Rangers aim to protect second place from Aberdeen.

Rangers' Joe Garner celebrates

Former Preston striker Garner has won over the fans with his committed, all-action displays, if not his goals, and Waghorn will need to call on similar resolve in the absence of the line-leading 28-year-old.

Who knows? If all goes well maybe Waghorn will earn that new contract after all.

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