Jamie Murphy is facing a fight to prove he has a future at Rangers.
The winger has recovered from the knee injury that kept him out for nearly a year.
But that has only taken him back to the fringes of the first team at Ibrox.
Steven Gerrard has now made it clear that Murphy must find a way of regaining the form he showed before his transfer from Brighton.
Even that, maintains the manager, might not be enough to get him a game.
Gerrard said: “Murph is in a unique situation because he’s missed a year’s football.
“He’s doing everything he can to get back to the level he was before.
“I think the fascinating thing is; is Jamie Murphy’s level before good enough to fight for a starting spot here?
“That’s the challenge for Jamie.
“We need to help him find the best solution to get back to his peak level, his A-game, as quickly as he can.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. I predict it could take up to four months.
“I will have a chat with Jamie and see what we both think is the best thing for him to get there as quickly as we can.”
That could lead to the 29-year-old going out on loan.
Gerrard went on: “That’s one thing on the agenda.
“If he’s not up for a loan, if he’s not up for reserve games, if he wants to do it through training, then we’ll listen to him and, as a group, we’ll decide.
“The important thing is that he needs as much football as he can, and at a decent level.
“Then he can compete for a place.”
Gerrard is not unsympathetic to the player’s plight. He has been there himself.
He said: “I missed a year with a groin and pelvis issue at Liverpool.
“In your head you think: ‘I’m ready, I’m back’.
“I thought I could move like Xabi Alonso and Mascherano, but then you come up against them in training and they’re popping the ball round you.
“You’re a yard off. You want to get there but you just can’t.
“I’ll give you a good example of it – Steven Davis last season.
“He didn’t have an ACL injury, but he wasn’t getting conditioned for game time.
“He’s a great technician with the ball, we all know and respect what he’s done.
“But when he first came here, he was a yard off.
“He’d missed a year’s football at the top level, missed the intensity of games like we had in Europe the other night.
“So, Jamie Murphy needs a long run of games with that level of intensity – or close to it – to get that last bit, that last spark back.
“Davis, after a certain amount of games with intensity, was phenomenal and has been arguably our best player since pre-season.
“What you have to understand is that the last bit, that sharpness, that match-readiness, is the most difficult bit to get.”
Gerrard hopes his players can overcome Hibs this afternoon to record back-to-back Premiership victories.
The Light Blues found the Edinburgh men a tough nut to crack last season and drew three of the four league meetings.
However, the manager senses an increased hunger in his squad, and believes that’s partly because they enjoy one another’s company.
He said: “I want all my players to joke in the dressing-room and have a laugh when they come to work.
“It is key that they all bond.
“I came to this place and the stories I heard was that it was them, us, we and you.
“Success doesn’t come from that.
“From the top to the bottom of the club it needs to connect.
“I encourage and like that team to be laughing and joking.
“I encourage team-bonding events. I know they have a coffee club, they have a card school and a table tennis group.
“They also compete in training in a league format.
“There are all different scenarios that we create here for camaraderie.
“Everyone is going to need each other if we are to have a good time together.”
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