Steven Gerrard has warned Jack Simpson he will have to remain patient as the new signing eyes up a place in the Rangers line-up.
The 24-year-old was finally handed his Gers debut on Sunday three weeks on from making his deadline day move from Bournemouth.
He was given the final 23 minutes as the runaway leaders strolled to a 4-1 win over Dundee United.
And having sampled his first taste of action in a blue jersey, centre-back Simpson admits he is desperate for more.
But with Rangers potentially just three wins from being crowned champions for the first time in 10 years – with Celtic Park on March 21 the likely venue for the title party – Gerrard admits he cannot now turn his back on the defenders who have taken the Light Blues this far.
“We will have to see (if Jack will be more involved in the remaining weeks] as we have got the luxury of having centre-backs who have performed ever so well over the season,” said the Rangers manager.
“We got Jack in early, which was a bonus really and we didn’t expect to get him in so early.
“There was no rush or panic or we don’t need to be forceful to get him in.
“Sunday’s game presented an opportunity to get him moving. He has been patient and waited for his debut and if we need to use him we will use him.
“He has to keep fighting for more performances from now until the end of the season and I am sure he will get them.
“It is very difficult to say to players ‘you are not playing today’ when they have been performing ever so well and keeping a lot of clean sheets and we have put ourselves in this position in the league and Europe with other players.
“I am not saying I prefer those players, but they deserve to play and deserve the shirt and Jack needs to keep pushing and be patient and wait for his moments to come.”
Simpson was introduced with Gers four goals up but Marc McNulty’s late strike denied Rangers a 14th Premiership clean sheet from 15 home games this season.
Motherwell’s Callum Lang is the only other player to have netted at Ibrox in league duty this term but Simpson has already learned that Sunday’s late slip is not acceptable.
He told RangersTV: “I am delighted to have made my debut and the most important thing is three points.
“But, especially from the back four and goalkeeper’s point of view, we are disappointed to concede a sloppy goal towards the end there as clean sheets mean a lot to us with the standards we set here.
“So I am pleased, but also a little disappointed.
“The standard is very high here. Just coming in to training, everyone is on it here and not even just on the pitch, but around the training ground and the gym, the standards are set very high and everyone is expected to do everything they can to be ready for match day.
“So I have been very impressed so far. I feel like the more I learn how the team plays and the more game time I get, the more comfortable I feel and I think I had can add something.
“I feel comfortable on the ball and I want to bring the ball out and be aggressive defensively on and off the ball.
“So I definitely feel like I can add something to the team seeing the way they play.”
Gers welcome Royal Antwerp to Glasgow on Thursday for the return leg of their Europa League last-32 clash – and Simpson would love to sample the action after seeing Gers edge last week’s 4-3 thriller in Flanders.
He continued: “Everyone wants to play European football when I was a kid so it would be exciting to be able to do that.
“It ended up being a crazy game really so it was a positive to come away with the four away goals to bring it back here. I am looking forward to the game on Thursday and hopefully we can go through.”