Ranger vows to make most of chance
Nile Ranger admits he thought he had spurned his final chance at Newcastle after being cast aside by Alan Pardew.
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9. Nile Ranger
The 21-year-old striker's off-field behaviour coupled with a shocking punctuality record saw him slip so far down the pecking order at St James' Park that even teenager Adam Campbell and forgotten man Xisco had edged ahead of him in the manager's eyes.
However, the penny finally seems to have dropped with a man who has persuaded the manager he deserves another opportunity to prove he can harness his natural talent, and his rehabilitation reached a landmark in Bordeaux last night when he was handed a first senior start for the club since April 2010 in a 2-0 Europa League defeat.
Asked if he thought his days on Tyneside were numbered, Ranger, who spent part of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, admitted: "Definitely.
"I thought, 'That's it, I have to move on to another club'. I thought my future was going to be somewhere else.
"It's not been the case. There's always another chance to turn a new leaf.
"The gaffer has been good with me. He told me he was watching me, but not to take anything for granted. He wants me to keep up the good work.
"If you do everything right and you train well, then you can't be ignored. The gaffer has acknowledged the fact I have been coming in on time and done things right. He's rewarded me."
Ranger's return to the fold has divided opinion among the club's fans, some of whom believe he deserves another opportunity, while others feel he is not worthy of it.
He said: "Some see me and think, 'Why is he getting a chance here? He doesn't deserve it'.
"But obviously I have to redeem myself and take my chance. There's a lot to learn. I don't know it all - I am only 21.
"I must do extra training, get my head down and watch others - and be involved.
"It's been tough for me. I have been out of the first team for a while at Newcastle.
"It is always the best thing to play for your parent club and Newcastle is a massive club, so it is good to get back."
Ranger was one of six youngsters who started at the Stade Chaban-Delmas on a night when most of them found the going tough.
Bordeaux took a 29th-minute lead through the impressive Cheick Diabate's towering header, and the Mali international wrapped up the victory 18 minutes from time with a cool finish.
Skipper Shola Ameobi, who made the same breakthrough himself more than a decade ago, knows just how difficult the challenge is for young players on the European stage.
The 31-year-old said: "I don't envy them. The style of play, the quality of the teams you play in Europe - obviously you are playing the top teams in every league.
"To come in as a young lad when there are so many young guys in there, it's always going to be difficult, and that inexperience showed."
Victory ensured Francis Gillot's men of top spot in Group D and in theory, a more favourable draw for the knockout stages, but Ameobi was able to take some comfort from what he saw in the away dressing room after the final whistle.
He said: "The positive thing I can take is the disappointment all the players have shown.
"We really wanted to come here, regardless of what team was playing, to win the game and the young lads were distraught in the changing room because they obviously want to make an impression.
"But we have qualified and that's the main thing. We have to look at the positives out of every situation.
"That was our goal in the first place and we have done that, so we are delighted. We can push that to the side for now until February and hopefully climb our way up that [Premier League] table."