Steven Gerrard admits he could gamble on Ryan Kent’s fitness by throwing the Rangers winger back into action for this week’s crucial clashes with Hibernian and Celtic.
The Rangers boss has desperately missed the on-loan Liverpool player’s creativity in the six weeks since he strained a hamstring.
Kent has managed one 45-minute appearance against Dundee in that time and his lay-off coincided with a seven-match run that saw the Light Blues muster just one goal from open play.
That came to an end on Sunday as Alfredo Morelos’ brace saw Rangers hit back to claim a 2-1 win over St Johnstone but victory came at a cost as Borna Barisic limped off with his own hamstring injury.
The Croatian full-back has now been ruled out of the Boxing Day clash with Hibs and the December 29 Old Firm showdown, while Scott Arfield, Gareth McAuley and Ryan Jack are also doubts.
But with the winter break looming, Gerrard says he may be prepared to take a risk on Kent as he looks to take the title race initiative with two important results.
He said: “Ryan’s working hard with the physio. It’s a tough one as you can’t rush hamstring injuries. He’s not a million miles away and we’re analysing him every day.
“Might we take a gamble? If the player tells us it’s fine to take a risk of course we’ll listen to it. But I’ll always listen to the medical department, they’re the experts.
“We have a slight advantage in that we have a break after these next two games so if anyone is a bit sore, we have that to fall back on. But we don’t want to be careless and have someone ruled out for weeks and months.”
Morelos was the hero with a second-half double as Rangers came from behind to beat Saints 2-1.
The Colombian was the subject of a £8million offer from Beijing Renhe last January but Gerrard has told any clubs considering a move next month not to bother.
He said: “We’re really pleased with him. All good players around the world receive interest and bids – that’s football.
“I won’t turn my phone off. I’ll listen to what (interested clubs) have to say. I’ll be respectful – but he’s going nowhere and that’s the message.”
Meanwhile, Gerrard has clarified his post-match comments at McDiarmid Park after he was accused by BT Sport pundit Michael Stewart of disrespecting Tommy Wright’s team when he claimed Rangers “shouldn’t have to work that hard to win at places like this”.
Speaking at the club’s Hummel Training Centre on Monday morning, the former Liverpool skipper said: “I think we’ve showed many times over the season that we’ve got character and guts.
“But we’ve also showed at times that we’ve turned up at places thinking we’ve got a divine right to beat the opposition.
“We weren’t the real Rangers team that I’ve seen so many occasions and I said that after the game.
“Some of my quotes were taken out of context. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful to St Johnstone or Tommy Wright. Tommy went out of his way to welcome me here.
“He’s someone I’ve got the utmost respect for. St Johnstone as well as all the other teams and managers in the league. So some of my quotes were misunderstood or taken the wrong way, so I apologise for that.”