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I don't know what kind of person Andy Webster is. Truth is, I'm even struggling to remember what he's like as a player.

 

But I do know this. If the guy doesn't get his finger out very quickly, his chances of ever fulfilling his potential will be down the drain before he knows it.

 

And given the ability this boy has in his locker, that would be an absolute crime.

 

Wednesday night at Kilmarnock was just the latest in a long line of no-shows from this player who was, according to manager Walter Smith on Tuesday morning, all set for a start in the Co-operative Insurance Cup clash.

 

I understand within an hour or so of that pre-match press conference Webster was hobbling off the training ground complaining off a sore groin.

 

Now, because I don't know what makes the guy tick, it's difficult for me to put my finger on what exactly is going on with him. But I expected so much more from Webster because he should have been a massive player for the club over the past few years.

 

It's looking more and more like one of the following - either Webster is the unluckiest player in the SPL or the most work-shy. I can't work him out.

 

He's 28 now and entering into the final few months of his contract at Rangers. And he's been at the club since the day after Paul Le Guen was sacked in January 2007, taking home wages of around �£10k a week.

 

Since then Rangers have won two league titles, reached a UEFA Cup Final and won another four domestic cups. They have clocked up more than 200 games in the process.

 

Webster's contribution to all this? Two starts, one against Gretna in September 2007 and one against Dunfermline earlier in this campaign. He ought to be utterly embarrassed by those statistics.

 

And yet, this is the same guy who spent last season on loan at Dundee United, captaining the team under Craig Levein and racking up 31 appearances on his way to rightly being talked up as a credible contender for Scotland's Player of the Year.

 

Is it just me or is something strange going on here? I would like to ask the player just one thing: "Could the real Andy Webster please stand up?"

 

I don't know if it's escaped his attention over the last few years but Rangers, the club that has been funding his lavish lifestyle, are actually in a bit of a pickle.

 

The manager has had to axe bodies left, right and centre just to keep the club going through the worst financial crisis in its history. Smith's squad is now down to the bare bones. And yet almost every time he's turned to Webster to help him out, the lad has gone missing.

 

Wednesday night at Rugby Park, though? That's got to be the worse one yet.

 

Rangers have entered a critical part of the season. The quarter-final at Kilmarnock was the start of an intense period of 15 matches between now and Christmas. And Smith, having spotted signs of fatigue creeping in already, had planned to spread the burden around a bit.

 

But no sooner had he pencilled Webster into his starting 11 than the defender had called off with his latest injury, leaving 40-year-old Davie Weir to step back into the breach.

 

The contrast between these two could not be more stark. Weir has hardly missed a game in three-and-a-half years. Webster has hardly played in three. So I ask again. What is it with this guy? Is he a bottle merchant, afraid to stick his head up above the parapet, or is he cursed with unbelievably bad luck?

 

Surely no one player can be so unfortunate so much of the time? The more you think about it, the more you suspect there is something else holding him back. It may well be more a mental issue than a physical one.

 

It takes a big boy to step into Weir's shoes. Maybe Webster just can't handle the responsibility of being put under the microscope and being compared with the guy who has glued that defence together throughout these, his veteran years.

 

From the outside looking in, it appears Webster is suffering from a total crisis in confidence - and that I do understand.

 

Believe me, it is not easy to deal with the pressure of playing for a massive club.

 

There are some guys who just don't know how to cope with it, especially when they are coming into the team as a direct replacement for one of the biggest men in the dressing room.

 

But what gets me is, in all my time up here, I can only recall one guy who has bombed just as completely, having arrived, like Webster, with bags of talent and a reputation to match. His name was Theo Snelders.

 

Make no mistake, he was a top keeper when signed as back-up to Andy Goram. But the Dutchman simply did not have the stomach to fill Andy's shirt (apply your own punchlines here).

 

That was simply not acceptable in our dressing room because if you wanted to be a part of our group then you had to be prepared to walk through walls for your team-mates and for the jersey.

 

The same spirit that was so important to our success then is now perhaps even more crucial to this current set of players, who are achieving everything against the odds.

 

I get the impression that each and every one of them would ask to play on even if half his leg was hanging off - "Get it strapped up and send me back out."

 

So I can only guess what Webster's team-mates make of his apparent refusal to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in along with the rest of them.

 

It would drive me mad, especially as there does seem to be a very decent player in there judging by his performances for United. But that's the problem. Top players do it at top clubs while others, who should be top players, can wilt under the ferocious intensity of it all.

 

You get the impression the rest of Smith's players are all carved out of the same bit of timber. Webster is running out of time to prove he isn't just a spare lump of wood.

 

Who knows what's going on in Websters head.

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Hateley spot on again.

 

2 starts in almost 4 years says it all especially when he played over 30 games for Utd and was their best player last season.

 

The only thing Webster has got on his side is he wouldnt be the first to have the Ibrox injury jinx.

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Hately does spout a lot of pish from time to time,however me thinks he has maybe heard a few whispers about Webster & WS relationship??,I could be totally wrong of course and Hately could be spouting some more pish,but I seem to remember the rumour going about that WS did not rate him and Webster had spat the dummy out!!.One thing's for sure Webster needs to come out and respond to this criticism and they best/only way he can do that IMO is to start earning his wages,or just GTF

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Never been a fan of Webster anyway, so I won't be particularly pleased if he becomes a regular starter for us. He's cost us a hell of a lot of money for practically zero return & I'd be surprised if we could get any sort of serious money for him in the transfer market. Shame we didn't offer the Arabs Webster plus what we paid for Beattie in the summer in exchange for Goodwillie. Bit late for that now eh..

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I'm glad we didn't get Woodwillie. He might look quite good for Dundee United but as we know its a big step up going to the old firm. Few youngsters from spl clubs have gone on and done well at the old firm in recent years. Steven Naismith is an obvious exception but it even took him a while to find his groove.

 

Going back to Webster, funny how he was superb for Dundee Utd and Hearts yet in his spells in the premiership and at us he was nowhere to be found. Dare I say being a good player in a poor team is basically his level?

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I think with Webster it's basically just a case of him being there for a dire emergency situation should one crop up. All this rubbish about him being groomed to replace Weir when he retires is just that IMO, rubbish. Time will tell though.

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