IT is a quality that cannot be taught or honed and one which Josh Windass isn’t short of. He knows it, and so do his Rangers team-mates.
“Can you see that? Do you need me to answer that question?” was Niko Kranjcar’s response when asked about Windass’ in-built belief in his own ability. The smile from the Croatian said it all.
When it comes to his attributes, the 24-year-old ticks many boxes. A powerful, athletic midfielder, Windass is capable of moments of magic or despair in equal measure.
The Rangers fans that watch him or the manager, Graeme Murty, that coaches him know what he is capable of, but don’t know what he will produce at any given moment. In truth, Windass probably doesn’t either.
A player that appeared to be a lost cause after an ineffectual first campaign at Ibrox has now become a key part of Murty’s plans and a talent that is being courted by suitors south of the border.
A handful of clubs have been credited with an interest in the former Accrington Stanley playmaker, while Rangers rebuffed a £500,00 bid Preston North End earlier this month.
Having transformed his fortunes, Windass must now ensure his career remains on an upward trajectory if he is to make the most of his potential and prove the belief that he has in himself and other have in him is not unfounded.
“I’m sure he has better people to ask advice,” Kranjcar said after Windass netted the only goal of the game in the Florida Cup win over Atletico Mineiro on Thursday night. “At the end of the day it’s his decision and the club’s decision.
“What I can say is he has had a great six months. He has evolved and he’s getting better and better every single day.
“The most important thing is the confidence and with the talent that he’s got both physical and on the ball, I think he has a very bright future ahead of him.
“I’m sure he will be good enough to play in the Premier League in the future.”
The goal against Atletico was far from the most important that Windass has scored this season but it was another insight into what he is capable of as he beat keeper Cleiton with a clinical finish.
He netted five times in eight matches during an impressive run a just a few weeks ago and has benefitted from being able to operate from a more central area at times under the guidance of Murty.
If Windass continues to shine, Kranjcar may find his chances limited. The Croatian is happy to help, though.
He said: “I would hope I have been [a mentor] but that’s something he needs to answer. I’m always here for everyone if they want to talk about football. I’m happy to encourage everyone.
“If you’re a footballer, the first thing you need to believe in is yourself and the ability you have. Then you obviously have to work hard.
“He has got tremendous pace and power and he is still good on the ball. He makes great runs in behind and obviously he has been scoring goals this season, which is something that I think, for a modern-day midfielder, is really, really important.”
Both Windass and Kranjcar are set to feature again for Murty’s side when they face Corinthians in their second Florida Cup match this evening.
The time Stateside has proven beneficial for the Light Blues as they have made the most of the winter break. Soon, attentions will turn to domestic matters once again and the Scottish Cup tie with Fraserburgh.
After a mixed first half of the campaign, Rangers must hit the ground running when they return to domestic action and Kranjcar is confident there will be continued improvement in the weeks and months ahead.
“The manager has his own philosophy which he’s trying to implement,” he said. “It was much harder before when he came in at first.
“But we all know him from that first period when he steadied the ship which has helped.
“And now it’s going to be his team and his way because as he said himself this is a big chance for him and we’re all on board.
“Does he need to change things? The style is there and the system is there because we want to play football from the back, especially in the Scottish league where we tend to dominate games.
“We have to be better in games, especially at home where we need to break teams down when they put 10 men behind the ball.
“I never doubt my team mates. We have always had character and we always play for the club.
“We are all grown men and bright human beings and none of us wants to lose or do badly. We want to do better but I don’t think anyone want to lose.
“We are all together with him as the manager and we have to start showing it on the pitch.”
There is plenty of scope for progress for Rangers this term but any gains won’t be enough to take them back into the Premiership title race.
That doesn’t mean there is nothing to play for in what remains of the campaign, however. Second place and Scottish Cup silverware are still at stake.
Kranjcar said: “As a team, we definitely have to get second place and hopefully win the cup. I’m more than positive that we are going to do it.
“I’m sure we can [close the gap on Celtic]. We have showed it in bits and pieces this season.
“At Parkhead, we played really well, especially in the second half. We played as a unit, as a team, but we need to be consistent.
“I have said from day one this season that the one thing this football club needs is consistency and hopefully we can bring that in the second half of the season.”