When Harry Forrester joined Rangers in January most fans didn’t have a clue who the Doncaster Rovers midfielder was but now, 9 months on from his move north, Forrester is, arguably, one of Rangers’ key players.
The 25-year-old had bounced around from club to club, failing to settle or find enough first team football, and had found himself stuck in the reserves at Doncaster when Mark Warburton came calling. Forrester and Warburton had worked together twice before (at Watford and Brentford) and Forrester was keen to go to a club where he knew his abilities would be appreciated. Rangers had been chasing their man for a number of months and, after Doncaster finally agreed to release him from his contract, he was he at last a Rangers player.
5 years earlier, Forrester had been tipped for big things in English football. Having joined Aston Villa from Watford for £250k as a 16-year old (rising to over £1.2m based on additional clauses) he never quite found a place at Villa and by age 20 had been released. Then Ajax came calling. Then-Ajax boss, and former Rangers defender, Frank de Boer had even praised Forrester after he grabbed a hat-trick in a trial game for Ajax’s “Jong” team. After being offered a contract with the former European Cup winners, Forrester instead signed with Brentford. Two fairly successful seasons at Griffin Park followed but as Brentford were guided up the leagues (by Uwe Rosler then Mark Warburton) Forrester began to get itchy feet again and agreed to join Doncaster after his Brentford contract ended.
The move to Yorkshire was anything but a success. A string of injuries limited Forrester’s game time and, once fit again, the midfielder couldn’t force his way back in to manager Paul Dickov’s plans. Then Rangers swooped in.
Forrester’s move north began as a short-term move with the midfielder only signed to a six-month deal. After taking a few weeks to get used to his new surroundings (from reserve football at Doncaster to a packed Ibrox is quite a leap) but once he got going he quickly started to win over fans. A constant attacking threat, Forrester has shown more than one flash of brilliance in his spell with Rangers. When he picks up the ball in midfield there’s a feeling that he’s one of the few players who can create an opportunity out of almost anything.
After grabbing 5 goals in 16 appearances an injury picked up in the Challenge Cup win over Peterhead ruled him out for the remainder of last season. It might just be a coincidence but that happened to end up being Rangers’ worst run of form of last season. Just a few days after being injured at Hampden, Forrester signed a new three-year contract at Ibrox, tying him to the club until 2019.
When he returned this season he done so with a renewed hunger and appetite to cement a starting jersey and help the club challenge for silverware. The addition of quality players like Niko Kranjčar and Joey Barton should help him continue improving as a player and repay Warburton’s faith in him. His versatility has shown this season with him being utilised in a number of different roles. Forrester is comfortable playing anywhere across the front and has impressed in central midfield too this season.
With Jason Holt and Josh Windass both still making their comeback from injury, Forrester might just start against Celtic on Saturday. If he does, there’s every chance come Saturday evening fans are toasting a different Prince Harry.
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