Steven Gerrard has challenged Jordan Jones to maintain the level of performance he produced in Rangers’ 5-1 demolition of Motherwell, insisting the Northern Ireland winger can still become a major asset for the Ibrox club this season.
Jones had appeared to be on his way out at Rangers, having been linked with several English Championship clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Stoke City and QPR during the current transfer window.
But the 25-year-old was unexpectedly handed his first Premiership start by Gerrard since August 2019 and responded by scoring his first goal for the club since joining them from Kilmarnock.
“Jordan came on and had a great cameo against Willem II on Thursday and I gave him an opportunity today and he took it and did ever so well,” said the Rangers manager.
“I had a feeling Jordan was going to play well because he was in a good place when he came on against Willem II. That’s the Jordan Jones I want to see and I won’t accept anything less than that because those are his attributes and if he brings that to the table he’s going to be a big help to us.”
Jones admits he feared for his prospects of forcing his way back into Gerrard’s plans but is now hopeful of staying at Rangers.
“If I am being honest, yeah there have been times I wondered if it would change,” said Jones.
“Some weeks it is hard to see if you are ever going to get a chance again and if you can keep going. You have got to be mentally strong and I feel that I am a lot better at things like that now - being mentally strong and not going in moods and sulking around the place.
“You are at a massive club and you have got to be grateful for the opportunity when you do get it. And when you do, you have got to make the most of it.
“It is obvious to everyone where I want to be, it is obvious I want to be here and get a run of games.”
On a gratifying afternoon for Gerrard, he also saw Swiss international striker Cedric Itten come off the bench to score his first two goals for the club since his £2.7 million summer move from St Gallen as Rangers stayed top of the Premiership table.
“I’m pleased for Cedric as he’s come close on a couple of occasions in previous games,” said Gerrard. “Attacking players love scoring goals so hopefully that will do his confidence the world of good.
“I’m very pleased with the win, I thought our standards throughout the game were top. We got comfortable in the game pretty early when we scored the third goal and I was happy that the level never dropped. I then had the opportunity to get people off the pitch with next Thursday night against Galatasaray in the back of my mind.
“To get that level of performance on the back of such a difficult game last Thursday against Willem II, we had to really empty it and leave it out on the pitch there physically. So I’m really pleased that we have, I wouldn’t say cruised through today, but our level of performance has made it quite an easy victory for us.”
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