Steven Gerrard backs Jordan Jones to add fire to Rangers' title challenge after Northern Ireland star's friendly heroics
Northern Ireland winger Jordan Jones can still make a comeback to have a telling say in Rangers' title chase.
That's the view of manager Steven Gerrard after the former Kilmarnock star played an eye-catching role in the weekend's 6-1 friendly win over Lokomotiv Tashkent in Dubai.
He came off the bench at half-time to win a penalty and also set up Greg Stewart's second goal, providing a welcome boost to fans ahead of the Premiership run-in.
It was the first time the 25-year-old had taken to the pitch since getting sent off against Celtic on September 1, injuring his knee in the process of his rash challenge on Moritz Bauer.
His long lay-off had prompted speculation of a loan move to Championship sides Stoke or Middlesbrough in a bid to kick his career back into action but Gerrard seems to have poured cold water over any suggestions of a midseason move.
"We've had nothing on the table, we're aware of the speculation but he's one of probably six to eight players where there is speculation and a lot of noise around them," he said.
Rather, Jones looks set to stay put at Ibrox as he attempts to rediscover the Killie form that earned his summer move to Glasgow.
"He's a good player but he's had a frustrating time," continued the boss. "He started his Rangers' career really strong and it looked like he was going to contribute really heavily and then he was missing 12 weeks.
"Just before the break, we were waiting for the real Jordan to stand up but he probably just ran out of time.
"On Saturday's evidence, he looks like he's come back with the bit between his teeth and that's what I want to see. I want to see him trying to force his way into the 11 and he done himself no harm. I thought his performance was really good."
Rangers return from their midseason break with a home game against Stranraer in the Scottish Cup on Friday evening (kick-off .45pm) and Gerrard name-checked Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis as one the key men in ensuring there is no sluggishness in his side's performance.
“The big players, the really important players, always stand out," he said.
“Steven Davis, Ryan Jack, Scott Arfield and Jermain Defoe — the usual ones who are consistent week-in-week-out.
“After a week off, they are just class.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital