The nickname of ‘Supersub’ first came to prominence when it was attached to David Fairclough, a 1970s Anfield striking hero whose knack for coming off the bench to score crucial goals was quite extraordinary.
If Fairclough might have wanted to start more games, it didn’t prevent him enjoying a fine career which earned him a hatful of medals.
When Rangers manager Gerrard has turned to his own bench in sticky situations in recent weeks, he has found someone who is proving an equally reliable source of salvation.
Cedric Itten came up trumps again for Gerrard at Fir Park on Sunday, scoring the 72nd minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Motherwell which preserved Rangers’ unbeaten record in the Premiership.
The previous month, Itten played a major role in another salvage operation for his team when he scored the second goal as they came from behind to beat Motherwell 3-1 at Ibrox.
The curiosity of Itten scoring four times in three appearances against the Lanarkshire side – he grabbed a double in the 5-1 win at Fir Park back in September – shouldn’t detract from the positive impact he has had as a substitute in several other games.
The 24-year-old Swiss international striker possesses combined qualities of aggression and technique which allow him to unsettle defenders and create space for his team-mates.
Itten has had to show considerable patience since his £2.7 million move from St Gallen to Rangers last August but it seems the time has come when Gerrard may be ready to hand him an extended run of games.
So far, Itten has started just six matches for Rangers with another 18 appearances off the bench. He has completed a full 90 minutes just three times – twice in the Premiership (both against Kilmarnock) and once in the Betfred Cup against Falkirk.
While Itten regards himself primarily as a central striker, from where he scored 19 goals in 30 starts for St Gallen last season, he is able to operate in either of the wider attacking roles in Gerrard’s favoured 4-3-3 formation.
Beyond the summer, should Alfredo Morelos move on, Itten could be the leading candidate to become Rangers’ new number nine. For the rest of this season, he deserves more opportunities to show he can shine alongside the Colombian striker.
A place in Gerrard’s starting line-up against Ross County at Ibrox this Saturday would certainly be fully merited for a player whose post-match reaction to the draw at Motherwell, notwithstanding his own contribution, showed a hunger Gerrard would appreciate.
“We are really disappointed,” Itten told Rangers TV. “We want to win every game. I always try to help my team, so it’s nice to score. But we didn’t win the game, so we are not happy.
“Now it is important to train well, work hard, show a reaction and be ready for the next game.
“It’s different (having a free midweek between games). It can be good to help you recover.
“But after a game like the one at Motherwell, you just want to have the next game (as soon as possible) and show a reaction.”