We love Ryan Kent. No one loves Ryan Kent more than we do on Ibrox Noise.
We lost patience with the toing and froing this summer, yes, and his stats last season weren’t stunning, but for sheer raw ability, pace, menace factor, trickery and a dozen other winger attributes his only rival in the SPL is James Forrest.
Forrest, of course has 5 years on Kent, and probably never quite hit the heights he’d have expected to when he was Kent’s age, but that’s besides the point.
Kent is our lad and we love him.
Which is why seeing him not quite hitting his stride yet is tough to watch.
We can see his potential, we can see him trying to do what he is capable of, but he just isn’t quite match fit yet, or match sharp yet, and isn’t being helped by a series of niggling injuries.
Remember, he wasn’t anything like match fit when he arrived back in Govan, having complained of a terrible pre-season training program, and Steven Gerrard, in his haste and excitement, made a bad judgement call to start the winger on his second debut.
So while he came back some weeks later, he still hasn’t managed to get going yet. And had to come off on Sunday with another knock.
He’s just not completely there yet, and needs to be managed better, frankly. Stevie is getting so much right at the moment, but starting Kent is not feasible. Not yet. The lad needs several subs appearances to get the speed and movement of match aggression in his legs, before beginning to appear in starting XIs.
This time last season he was starting to show what he could do, but he arrived in Govan pretty much match fit (he’d played plenty for Bristol that calendar year and managed a pre-season) and just wasn’t in the ‘zone’ or gelling with his team mates for the first few months.
He has the latter in abundance now, but not the former.
We can’t wait for him to get completely up to speed, to get the sharpness back, and for his body to get back to the robust version of himself we saw last season.
Rangers have a devastating weapon in the form of the recently-turned 23-year old winger. It’s just not quite fully loaded yet.