Steven Gerrard hailed Ryan Jack for setting the standards he believes Rangers must reach to achieve success this season.
Midfielder Jack scored twice and was the stand-out performer as Rangers defeated Ross County 4-0 in Dingwall to remain level on points with Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Jack was substituted just after an hour as Rangers manager Gerrard sought to keep him as fresh as possible for Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden.
It’s a measure of how important Rangers manager Gerrard considers the 27-year-old to his quest for silverware in the coming months.
“How good has Ryan been since I’ve come through the door?,” enthused Gerrard. “He’s an example for the rest of the squad because he never drops his standards, whether it’s a training session or a game.
“He knits everything together, he drives the team on, he demands from everyone else around him.
“It was a performance of a proper leader and with his two finishes, he is adding that to his game as well. He has come on leaps and bounds and just needs to keep going.
“He is so vital to us and that’s the reason I took him off, because I had that luxury. He scored two fantastic goals and was getting excited for a hat-trick but I had to take him off.”
Top scorer Alfredo Morelos also scored twice, taking his tally for the season to 18, as Rangers produced a display much improved from their previous league outings against Hearts and Motherwell.
“It was a strong performance,” said Gerrard. “I was delighted with our mentality coming into the game. We competed well and did all the basics very well. That’s what we need in every game - we can’t pick and choose.
“I’ve been disappointed in how we started the two previous domestic games. We cruised into them with an arrogance which is not us. We’re not at the level where we can do that.
“We have to treat every single opposition with the same respect and really go into the game ready to fight and compete.
“But we put that right tonight and put in a strong performance for the majority of the game.
“I thought we got sloppy in the last 20 minutes and our standards dropped but the game was won by then.
“We are in a good place. We’ll go into the weekend with confidence and belief. It’s a semi-final and there’s a lot at stake.”
Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell, whose side have now gone five league games without a win and have dropped into the bottom six, had no complaints about the outcome.
“We were worlds apart,” said Kettlewell. “We weren’t able to compete with Rangers. We didn’t react in the right manner to losing the first goal, we were too passive. I’m not going to lie, it could have been more than four tonight.”