All Eyes On Blue Boys

by Mark Rowan

Former Everton and Rangers defender Alec Cleland believes that all eyes will be on boyhood Blues Michael Ball and Wayne Rooney when the two sides meet at Ibrox this weekend, for vastly different reasons.

For Ball, who made over 150 appearances for Everton in his four years as a first-team player, it will be his first appearance for the 'Gers at Ibrox since November 2001.

It will also be his first chance to impress Rangers boss Alex McLeish who is yet to see the talented left-back in competitive action.

Ball's time in Glasgow has been marred with injury, indeed he played just eleven times before suffering cruciate ligament damage that has sidelined him for over a year.

Cleland, a former team-mate of Ball's at Goodison, believes this will be the ideal opportunity to kick-start his Ibrox career.

"I think the Rangers fans are still to see the best of him," said Cleland.

"I remember Michael as a great left-back who was really comfortable on the ball and I hope next season he can put his injuries behind him.

"He's still young and I hope he gets back to the sort of form he had when I played with him at Everton.

"They were raving about him and he got into the England squad which says a lot for him.

"I've read that Alex McLeish is confident that Michael can get back into the international team and I think if he's playing every week for Rangers then Sven Goran Eriksson will certainly recall him.

"I wish him all the best and hope he has a great season."

As Cleland's Goodison career was coming to an end, Wayne Rooney's was just beginning.

The Scotland full-back was impressed by the young striker during his time at Everton and is confident that he will hit the headlines for many years to come.

"I played two reserve games with young Wayne when he was just coming on to the scene and you could see even then that he was going to a world-class player and I don't think he could be working under a better manager right now," continued Cleland.

"Davy Moyes will nurture him along nicely and make sure he doesn't get burnt out too early.

"In Wayne's case you should believe the hype. The Rangers fans will see that when he comes to play at Ibrox. Hopefully he will put on a show for the punters."

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