There is unshakable conviction offered by Graeme Murty as to the supreme abilities that Rangers midfielder Jordan Rossiter possesses. There is a complete lack of conviction from the Ibrox manager over whether the club will ever see the true value of these talents.
The 20-year-old appears to be in the permanent grip of “mystery injuries”. He has made only ten appearances since his summer 2016 move from Liverpool. His issues seem to have centred on recurring back, hamstring and calf problems. These were supposed to have been resolved when Rossiter was able to start the season. He was involved in the Progres Niederkorn debacle, but by the end of August had broken down again and has not been seen since.
It would appear the physiology of the youngster’s body is at odds with the rigours of a professional footballer’s career. Murty says the Ibrox medical team are doing everything in their power to build the midfielder up body and mind, with fitness concerns that have dogged the player since his youth days at Anfield inevitably eating into his psyche. Only time – and a considerable amount of it – will tell if Rossiter can return. “He is going through a hard time,” Murty admitted. “Physically and psychologically. We are not sure where we are time-wise. We were looking at Jordan progressing. He’s not progressing as fast as we would like or, I’m sure, he would like.
“He’s getting fantastic support, though. Our medical staff are taking really, really good care of him. What we want to do is take away any performance anxiety or any other stresses that he has so that he keeps his focus on getting his body right and making sure he can maximise his potential.
“Part of the way to do that is to take away time limits, take away restrictions on it. And just make sure that holistically you look at everything in his life and around him that can put him in a positive place. [You can contrast it with] Kenny [Miller]. If you give Kenny Miller a timeline: you’re going to be out this length of time, Kenny would do everything he can do to chase that down because that’s his psyche.
“Because Jordan has had a harder time of it over the last couple of years, putting that time or that date in the forefront of his mind might lead him to fixate on that rather than listening to his body. And we just want him to get his body right. And when he gets his body right, then we will see him play.”
Murty suffered serious injury problems at the end of his career. He was sidelined for months on end and knows just how mind-messing it can be for a player to be caught in the vicious cycle of constant rehab without discernible results.
“It’s difficult for the staff to help keep him upbeat,” the Rangers manager said. “I think one of the key components is not always the same voice. We’ve got two really good physios, our doc is outstanding. We have different coaching staff that are around him all the time. He gets a different variety of stimulus as well. We just have to make sure that when he walks in here on a morning, he’s walking into a place that can help. And he walks out of here at the end feeling as though he’s done himself good and is moving towards getting better.
“He’s been down to different places, he’s been to St George’s. That’s also a part of our care programme where we can send him to other trusted professionals, so he can get a different stimulus from different environments as well. Having been injured for 18 months myself, the monotony of it, the grind of it and the fact that it never changes can really wear you down. So we need to make sure we give him a variety of different stimulus.”
Rossiter is worth every ounce of effort believes Murty because he has a technical prowess in his passing that is to be marvelled over.
“I am hopeful for him, hopeful that we can get him right,” he said. “I’m hopeful we can get him fit because if we do then we’ve got a really, really good asset, that deals with the football really well. He passes the ball brilliantly and has a fantastic pedigree. Look at where he’s come from and where he’s been already. So what we need to do is make sure we get him as fit as we possibly can. And we get him back on a football pitch. When you see it close, the sound he makes when passing the ball, just from a simple sidefoot is different. There’s just a resonance to it that’s great.
“Honestly. Similar to if you see someone who hits a golf shot it makes that wonderful sound when the pros hit it. It sounds totally different when we clang it down the fairway, slap it a wee bit. It’s like that. That sound, that resonance he has when he hits through it. I want him to have that in the forefront of his mind. That feeling of that’s what I want.
“We need to get him there and actually get him feeling the pleasure of playing football again.”