Rangers legend Nacho Novo confident striker Kemar Roofe can fire Ibrox club to Scottish Cup and European silverware
The Spanaird, who was key member of Walter Smith’s side that reached the UEFA Cup final in 200, is a big fan of Roofe
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Nacho Novo believes Rangers striker Kemar Roofe can provide the cutting edge required in the final third to secure silverware in the Scottish Cup and fire the Ibrox club to European glory.
The former Gers frontman, who slotted home the winning penalty against Fiorentina to take the Glasgow giants through to the UEFA Cup final in 2008, watched Roofe net his first hat-trick during Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing of St Mirren.
The pressure has been ramped up on the Jamaican international in recent days after talisman Alfredo Morelos was ruled out for the rest of the season through injury.
Novo is confident the former Anderlecht attacker can fire Rangers to a memorable double this week as they prepare for a Europa League quarter final second leg tie against Braga before facing Old Firm rivals Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.
The Spanaird insists his penalty box instinct gives Roofe a narrow advantage over Fashion Sakala in the battle to lead the frontline.
He said: “Roofe is a great player. He is always in the right place and he showed that on Sunday against St Mirren.
“Morelos will be a big miss as he is one of the best players in the team, but he is injured now and Roofe has to prove he can play every game and score goals.
“For his first two on Sunday, he found a yard of space inside the area and he’s so clever. It’s a difficult thing to do, but he found that area and knew where the ball was going to be and showed he knows where the goal is.
“I think it will be good for him to get the chance to show he can be Rangers’ No 1 striker.
“It can take games to get up to sharpness, but I think it’s up to the player to show they are ready when needed. I’ve been there and it can be difficult not playing, but it’s up to you to be fit and sharp.
“I believe if you are training full-time every single day and you push yourself to the limit then you are good to go when the manager needs you.
“He’s shown what he can do, so I don’t think he needs time.
“It will be interesting to see what he can do, but I believe in him 100 per cent. I think that he can play wherever he wants to. He’s good through the middle or on the wing.
“If he is up front on his own, he needs to have that support coming from midfield. Ryan Kent is playing well again and impacting games. Joe Aribo is another who will need to create chances for Kemar to score more.
“The players will know where Roofe likes to receive the ball and his movements after working with him.
“For me, I think Roofe is the main man right now. You can see his movement and he will create chances with that. He still has to put them away, but his goal return is good.
“Now we will see on Thursday and Sunday what he can do. They are two massive games for Rangers and their season.”
14 years have passed since Novo, an integral part of the late Walter Smith’s side, celebrated one of the highlights of his career during their semi-final shooutout triumph over Serie A giants Fiorentina.
That came towards the end of a gruelling campaign which saw the Light Blues play 68 games in all competition and Novo admits the current crop of first-team stars cant’ let fatigue creep in ahead of a crucial end to the season.
He added: “The league title race isn’t over, as you never know what can happen. It has happened before and the team can still win it mathematically.
“They have to take it game by game and win them and see what Celtic can do. They have Europe and the semi- final, as well as the league, but that’s what you want at a club like Rangers.
“You want to be involved in big games in as many competitions as possible. That’s how it should be at Rangers and they should try to win everything.
“Sometimes you can’t win every game, but the mentality has to be win, win, win. I loved playing with that pressure. That was the values of the club — win every time you play.
“In 2008, we played nearly 70 games. That was tough. We were going the full length in all of the competitions.
“Maybe there was a bit of fatigue, but that can’t be an excuse. There are no excuses. As a team, we won together and we lost together.
“We just wanted to prove ourselves and I think Rangers have a good chance of doing that in the next few games.
“Hopefully they can make something special this season that’s even better than the team that I was part of.”
Nacho Novo was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Celtic v Rangers this Sunday from 1pm Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £9.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.