What Ryan Jack brings to Rangers table laid bare by Joe Aribo
But while the Ibrox side’s midfield has continued to operate with a fair degree of efficiency during that period, no-one at the club is in any doubt that Jack’s return to the matchday squad for Saturday’s Premiership fixture at home to Ross County will significantly enhance that department of Steven Gerrard’s team.
It’s certainly a view endorsed by Joe Aribo, one of the players who has been charged with ensuring the central trio in Gerrard’s 4-3-3 formation has continued to tick over smoothly in Jack’s absence.
“Jacko is a massive player for us and it is nice to have him back,” said Aribo. “It makes us compete in midfield, we have to be the best that we can be and he keeps us on our toes. It is massive to have him back in the team and around the boys.
“He brings that extra bit of bite in the middle of the pitch and he brings a calmness in possession. He is good to have around.”
Aribo’s sentiments were echoed by Rangers manager Gerrard who has never attempted to disguise his admiration for 28-year-old Jack.
“He’s a huge player for us, and I don’t just mean on the pitch,” said Gerrard. “The way he goes about his daily routine, he’s always driving and demanding more from others.
“He’s a leader. He trains at a level that makes it easy for others to follow. He sets standards on a daily basis and although we have done well in terms of the results, there is no doubt we have missed him the past few months.
“We have been on an exceptional run, but we have missed Jacko for sure. I don’t think I need to go on about him again, because you all know what I think of him.
“I was really tempted to involve him last week at Motherwell. But he’s had another full week’s training and he’s looking more ready now. He is back in the 18 for the Ross County game.”
While Jack should definitely feature at some stage against County, Gerrard will make a later decision on whether to involve Kemar Roofe following the English forward’s recovery from the calf injury he sustained against Celtic on January 2.
“Kemar had his first full day training with the team on Friday,” said Gerrard. “So I’m very pleased about that.
“He’s another leader, another big player back with the group. The timing is really good. We have to respect the fact it’s his first session back and make a decision from there on when he is ready to come back into the matchday group.
“But he is another one who has been missed in terms of the standards he sets, his leadership and voice in the way he goes about his work. To have both Jack and Roofe around the group again is a big plus for me going forward.”
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