Alfredo Morelos has left Glasgow Rangers in a position where Steven Gerrard must unleash Cedric Itten against Hamilton Academical after Kemar Roofe struggled on his first game back having made a full recovery from injury.
Rangers have recently accepted a three-game ban handed to Morelos after being cited for violent conduct against Hibernian following a stamp on Ryan Porteous.
As such, he will not face Hamilton and Kilmarnock, which has deprived Gerrard of his first-choice striker ahead of the trip to New Douglas Park on Sunday.
The Colombian’s reckless behaviour means Roofe, Jermain Defoe, Greg Stewart and Cedric Itten remain Rangers’ recognised senior centre-forwards, with Gerrard in a position now where he may be forced to choose between the first two to lead the line. It’s unlike Stewart will make a rare appearance having hardly featured at all since the start of this season.
Yet if Gerrard opts for Itten and makes him a key cog in his attack, it could be his chance to stake his claim in the starting line-up against the Accies.
Itten’s development has been somewhat hindered by Gerrard so far this season, with the majority of his appearances coming off the bench. However, Gerrard rewarded him for his patience with a start against Lech Poznan in the Europa League and must now put his faith in his potential after he opened the scoring.
The 24-year-old boasted a pretty remarkable record for his former club St. Gallen, having scored 20 clubs goals for the Swiss side before sealing a move to the 54-time Scottish champions in the summer. He has since made 26 appearances across all competitions for the Light Blues and has five goals and two assists to show for his six starts.
However, while Itten was afforded 24′ minutes against St. Johnstone, he entered the action halfway through the second half and has been barely seen at all this season.
Gerrard clearly has high hopes for the Switzerland international, hailing him for his “fantastic” performance after the 2-0 win over Lech Poznan, and even admitting that he is someone who “deserves to play more“. Well, it’s about time the Ibrox boss put his money where his mouth is and gave him another shot instead.
Obviously, Morelos will resume his place as Gerrard’s first-choice striker after he has served his suspension, but in terms of his backup options, the £12.5k-per-week earning Itten deserves his chance given that he has waited patiently while slowly being eased into life in Scottish football.