Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has told Jordan Jones he still has a future at Rangers – but only if he maintains the standard of his fabulous Fir Park show.
The Northern Ireland winger was handed his first league start for Gers since August last year as they took on Motherwell.
And he did not let the opportunity slip as he fired his first goal for the club during the Light Blues’ 5-1 Lanarkshire rout.
It could prove a big moment for the former Kilmarnock attacker.
He looked to be heading for the door after struggling to break into Gerrard’s team and had been touted for moves to several English Championship clubs – including Stoke, Barnsley, QPR, Middlesbrough and Blackburn – ahead of next week’s transfer deadline.
But his manager is ready to give him another chance after watching him tear up Stephen Robinson’s Well side after replacing Ianis Hagi in the starting line-up.
Gerrard said: “I had a feeling Jordan was going to play well because he was in a good place when he came on against Williem II on Thursday.
“That’s Jordan Jones. 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.”
Motherwell’s miserable run of conceding penalties continued as they gave away two first-half spot-kicks – both converted by Tavernier either side of Jones’ sublime strike.
Cedric Itten also opened his Gers account after climbing off the bench, crashing home spectacularly from the edge of the box before converting from close range.
It was a day of positives for Gerrard as he handed former Leicester left-back Calvin Bassey a first Premiership start in place of Borna Barisic – who was benched to protect a tight hip.
“Calvin is training ever so well and probably deserves an opportunity but whether I would have done it at Motherwell away is another question but Borna has some tightness up high around the hip area so he was a bit of a risk today and I was forced into that one.
“I’m very pleased with the performance, 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’m pleased for Cedric he’s come close on a couple of occasions. Attacking players love scoring goals so hopefully that will hopefully do his confidence the world of good.
“Goals are coming from different areas. The pleasing thing as a manager is that everyone’s chipping in and getting goals.”
Robinson’s team have now given away eight spot-kicks already this term – with free shots from 12 yards accounting for almost half of the 19 goals they have conceded so far.
Well looked exhausted after being bounced out of Europe by Hapoel Beer Sheva on Thursday and Robinson admitted: “To put it simply, we probably got what we deserved.
“Rangers were the better side. We looked completely jaded – both mentally and physically.
“The penalty early on kills us. I think that’s eight penalties we have conceded now, so it’s a statistic which doesn’t read very well.
“The penalties are a concern. I think that’s three or four handball penalties now. The rule itself is very difficult for the referees so I’m not going to criticise them.
“It makes life difficult but let me reiterate, we didn’t lose the game because of the penalties. We lost the game because we weren’t at the races.”