Steven Gerrard hails 'different player' Steven Davis after man of the match display against Hearts
Steven Gerrard reckons Rangers are just starting to remember what the real Steven Davis is like.
The Northern Ireland captain has struggled for game-time and form since his January loan move from Southampton but belied that fact with two typically dominant displays for Northern Ireland over the international break.
There had been hopes, on the back of those performances, that Davis could have started Sunday's Old Firm derby. Coming on as an 88th minute sub with Celtic 2-1 ahead and his side down to 10 men won't be quite what Davis had in mind.
However, it was a different story as Gerrard named Davis in the starting line-up against Hearts on Wednesday night; the 34-year-old reminding Rangers of the player they have on their hands as he was named the sponsors' man of the match in the 3-0 victory.
Gerrard said: "Forget the performance, Steven Davis looks 100 per cent fit now, and match sharp. He is getting up to people and looks sharp and on the eye, it looks completely different. Covering all round the pitch, winning the ball back, intercepting balls, looking aggressive.
"He looked a different player. He looked good against Kilmarnock before the international break, I followed his games with Northern Ireland and he played really well, and it went up a notch tonight. It was very pleasing."
Gerrard also gave a strong hint that Alfredo Morelos might struggle to regain his starting place after Jermain Defoe bagged the opening goal in the absence of the suspended Colombian.
Defoe scored in the 16th minute and only a brilliant stop from Zdenek Zlamal denied him a second before Scott Arfield followed up to round off the scoring two minutes after the break, with Connor Goldson having made it 2-0 in between times.
The former England striker has only started six matches since moving on loan from Bournemouth and now has six goals and a chance to pin down a place with Morelos out for a further three games following his red card in Sunday's defeat by Celtic.
Gerrard said: "I'm happy with him because he has been a top professional. He has been immaculate around the place. When he's come on he's given everything he has. His numbers have been good considering the chances he has had.
"He won't be too happy with me because I know Jermain better than most and he wants more minutes. I get that, I understand that and respect it.
"But he will get a run in the team now. I said to him 'play well, score goals, and you will get a run in the team'. If he continues to play well and score goals, it will be interesting in three games' time."
Hearts manager Craig Levein admitted his side struggled without striker Uche Ikpeazu, who is in line to return from injury against Hibernian on Saturday.
Levein said: "It was a poor performance.
"Admittedly we were missing Uche, he provides us with more aggression and the ability to retain the ball in the final third.
"We didn't quite have that, which does get disappointing, particularly for defenders continually defending.
"But we just didn't do enough and I just want to consign it to the bin and think about Saturday."
RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Worrall, Flanagan, Davis, Jack (McCrorie, 61 mins), Arfield (Grezda, 68 mins), Kamara, Kent, Defoe (Lafferty, 78 mins). Unused subs: Foderingham, Katic, Candeias, Coulibaly.
Hearts: Zlamal, Souttar, Berra, Shaughnessy, Brandon, Haring, Djoum (Lee, 70 mins), Bozanic, Godinho (Burns, 59 mins), Wighton, Clare (Keena, 59 mins). Unused subs: Dikamona, Doyle, MacLean, Mulraney.
Referee: Kevin Clancy (Scotland)
Man of the match: Steven Davis
Match rating: 7/10