Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has told the Glasgow Evening Times that Jamie Murphy wanted to face Oxford United on Sunday – but he wasn't risked.
The Gers took on League One side Oxford at Ibrox in a pre-season friendly on Sunday, gearing up for their Europa League clash with St Joseph's on Tuesday.
Rangers ran out 5-0 winners, with Daniel Candeias and new signing Greg Stewart finding the net in the first half, before Lewis Mayo, Sheyi Ojo and Jermain Defoe scoring after the break.
That was ideal preparation for Tuesday's big game, but one player who wasn't involved was winger Murphy, who is working his way back to fitness.
Murphy suffered a serious knee injury in August of last year, and hasn't kicked a ball for the Rangers first team since then, having gone through a gruelling rehabilitation.
The 29-year-old is nearing a return though, and Gerrard revealed that he was involved for Rangers reserves on Saturday, and will do similar on Tuesday.
Gerrard noted that Murphy wanted to play against Oxford, and whilst Gerrard loves that attitude, he feels it would have been irresponsible to throw him into a first team game this early.
Gerrard felt that he needed to give Murphy the truth, that he just wasn't ready for that kind of game yet, believing that the best of the winger won't be seen for a few months – but he could face Marseille in a friendly next weekend.
“Jamie Murphy played yesterday for the reserves, got some minutes in the tank and will play against Ayr United on Tuesday,” said Gerrard. “He’s in a good place, Jamie. He wanted to play today, again. He’s missed a lot of football and wanted to get back. But we have to make sure he’s ready. Especially putting him in front of fans, you know, he’s been out for a year. So you want to build his confidence up and he’ll be back like a new signing.”
“I respect that. I want players who want to play. Whether you’ve been injured or been dropped, if you’re out the team, I want players who knock on my door and tell me they want to play and tell me why they should be playing. I love all that. But sometimes you’ve got to give someone the truth. If I put Jamie Murphy into serious games of football right now, it would be mismanagement, especially with what he’s been through. He’s had a career-threatening injury. So we have to be patient. I don’t really expect to see the best Jamie Murphy for a good few months yet. But you could see him against Marseille,” he added.
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