Zak Lovelace: My Motivation Is High

ZAK LOVELACE says he’s more motivated than ever to reach the Rangers first-team after making his return from injury earlier this month.

The 18-year-old forward was struck down with a hamstring injury during his first ever start for the Gers in the 3-0 triumph over St. Mirren in October.

It was a cruel blow for the teenager who was knocking on the door of the first-team after continuing to catch the eye since making his debut as a 16-year-old in August 2022.

Speaking to RangersTV to reflect on his injury absence and hunger after returning to the pitch, Lovelace said: “My motivation is probably the highest that it’s been. I just want to come back, do what I need to do, score a couple of goals, and hopefully look forward to winning a couple of trophies.

“I was jokingly telling the physio if we could skip the extra one or two weeks [of rehab] so I could get back on the pitch. I really wanted to get back as soon as possible, but I knew I had to take my time with it.

“I was in a dark space for the first three weeks. I thought, listen, I’m finished if this doesn’t go right.

“But I came back in training and there was a week it felt a bit tight, but fortunately I’m back to where I am now.

“When I started sprinting, I hit a couple of good speeds. I knew then that I would be back soon and I was so excited.

“I’ve been speaking to the assistant coaches, Alex Rae and Brian Gilmour, quite regularly and they have been giving me motivation, telling me that I need to leave my print when I come round to train with the first-team.

“The fans have been excellent and they’ve been messaging me with support. They’ve been telling me to keep my head up and that I’ll be back. They’ve kept my spirits high and I love it.”

On experiencing the injury in the first half at the SMiSA Stadium, Lovelace recalls: “It was very bad. It just popped and it actually feels like you’ve been shot in the leg.

“At the time the St. Mirren crowd were booing me, but I just blocked it out because I knew the pain was bad.

“I didn’t know the severity of it because I had experienced something similar in August and it wasn’t all that bad.

“I was walking after it and I felt that I was going to be alright, perhaps out for two or three weeks, but I was devastated when I found out how bad it was.”

Lovelace also vividly recalls the moment where he learned that he was making his first Rangers start.

The teenager was no stranger to the first-team squad having been rewarded with regular opportunities, but he admits he was taken aback at being given the nod from the off.

An experienced dressing room, containing the leadership qualities of James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, John Lundstram, among others, immediately quelled the pre-match nerves of the youngster.

He continued: “To be honest, I thought that I would just come off the bench, perhaps on 60 minutes.

“But then when I got told that I was starting, I was like ‘okay, this is a chance to show what I can do now’.

“I was nervous. I was hesitant to even just stand up. But a few of the players were saying to me, ‘go on Zak, do what you do’, and that gave me confidence.

“Most of the players were cheering me up, telling me that I was here for a reason. Kemar Roofe, Leon Balogun, Connor Goldson, and most of them to be fair, were all on me telling me that I was here for a reason and to do what I can do.

“I felt that I was doing well during the game. I hit a couple of good crosses into the penalty box, and one which won the penalty of course, and I was very direct.”

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