The numbers simply don’t add up for Jordan Rossiter. The playmaker’s Rangers career can be summed up as follows; 26 months, 12 appearances, four starts and a total of just 639 minutes of competitive action. Current manager Steven Gerrard, an inspirational figure in his early days at Anfield, still believes that Rossiter will amount to something, however.
Ankle, calf and hamstring injuries have bedevilled his time at Ibrox and the 21-year-old endured similar problems with Liverpool before he was signed by Mark Warburton in the summer of 2016.
Since then it’s been a vicious circle of injury, rehabilitation, comeback and breakdown, repeated endlessly. Rossiter came off the bench for the final 34 minutes of Wednesday’s 4-0 BetfredCup victory over Ayr United at Ibrox on Wednesday, though, and Gerrard remains optimistic that he can still be an influential figure for Rangers in the next few years.
“He’s one that, as a staff, we have spoken a lot about,” he said. “We’re looking for ways in which we can help him. We looked at his schedule in terms of training and games and the idea was to try and off-load him a bit – that’s why I left him out of the Europa League squad, because I don’t see him playing three games per week.
“We’re focused on getting him back domestically and we are determined not to push him too much in terms of training.
“We rate the player very highly and we know the fans are desperate to see him on a consistent basis. No-one wants him back more than the kid himself and I think he’s shown unbelievable mental strength.
“He’s really fought through the tough times, he came through the Ayr game and he’s back now. Once he repeats games his body will tune in and his confidence will build so, hopefully, this is a short-term schedule.”
Rangers supporters have endured too many previous disappointments to build their hopes up about Rossiter regularly running the show for their side at home and abroad but Gerrard believes it can happen.
“He’s a great player and he’s naturally fit in terms of his aerobic capacity,” he said. “He can get around the pitch, he’s safe and a player you can trust to do a job for you within the team. There’s no doubt about it; if he’s fit, he makes us a lot stronger and gives us a big option in the middle of the pitch. He’s had no pre-season friendlies, he played 45 minutes for the reserves and he cruised through that.
“He then played half an hour against Ayr and he cruised through that. Straight away you can see he’s a talent. He can be a big player for us.”
Gerrard is delighted with the dedication displayed by Rossiter but he would be happier still if Umar Sadiq, the Nigerian striker signed on a season-long loan from Roma, was similarly single-minded.
Sadiq has made only three cameo appearances from the bench since relocating from Italy and the manager has warned him that, unless his work-rate increases significantly, he will remain a peripheral figure.
“We need more from him in every department,” he said. “There’s not one thing where you think: ‘Well, if he does that a bit better, he’s in.’ He needs to do more.
“We understand he’s a young player. I’ve spoken to him numerous times, one-on-one. He’s had individual training; we’ve done everything to help him but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work it out.
“He hasn’t had much game-time and he’s frustrated by that but, when that’s not happening, the only person who can sort it out is yourself. He needs to push himself in every single department. He needs to realise he’s at a big club.”