Steven Gerrard has warned the Rangers faithful that Kemar Roofe’s wonder goal in Belgium does not mean he will definitely be rushed back into action against Livingston.
The former Anderlecht ace has made himself an internet sensation and an instant hero with the Light Blues legions after sealing Gers’ 2-0 Europa League win over Standard Liege with his audacious strike from the half-way line.
With Alfredo Morelos continuing to look short on form, excited supporters have been hoping they will get a chance to see more of the 27-year-old ex-Leeds frontman when Livi visit Ibrox on Sunday.
But Gerrard has left them disappointed after declaring he will be taking no taking no risks with the striker, who was making his first substitute appearance since returning from a month-long calf injury lay-off as he launched the ball over Liege keeper Arnaud Bodart’s head from 55 yards out.
The Ibrox boss, who revealed Borna Barisic is getting a thigh strain scanned after limping off against Standard, said: “We need to get Kemar up to speed. I don’t think we’ve yet had him at 100 per cent.
“He got really close before his latest injury – but then he missed a month, which was frustrating for everyone.
“I think everyone is just expecting me to plunge him into every single game because of the goal last night. That won’t be the case.
“We’ll treat him with care and get him up to speed at the right time.
“When he’s ready he will come back into the team.
“We have seen moments and flashes of his quality. Obviously people will talk about his goal last night for a long time and rightly so.
“But for me as the manager, I need Kemar Roofe 100 per cent fit and robust and ready to churn games out. That’s when he’ll be an even bigger help to the team.”
Roofe’s goal has been viewed online more than 2.5million times already, drawing comparisons with David Beckham’s famous long-range effort for Manchester United against Wimbledon back in 1996.
Gerrard has already declared it the best goal he has ever seen, which is high praise considering some of the beauties he has witnessed – and scored himself – down the years.
“It was a world class moment, a moment of genius,” said the former Liverpool skipper. “I have seen the goal many, many times in terms of execution.
“I have seen Luis Suarez do it, Wayne Rooney do it, Xabi Alonso do it a couple of times.
“It is probably the best that I have seen live. I’m trying to think of a better goal and I can’t think of one.
“Listen, he deserves everything and he is going to see that many, many time during his career and I am sure he will. I don’t think he will ever beat that. If he does, I’m looking forward to seeing it and I hope it’s for me.
“We’re looking to try and get him some more minutes at the weekend now and we will see how it goes.”
Gers, fuelled by the confidence of last weekend’s derby Old Firm triumph, kicked off their Europa League campaign by grabbing the club’s first group stage away win since the 2007 victory over Lyon.
They can make it a perfect week when Livi make the trip along the M8 – and Gerrard is determined not to spoil those achievements.
“Listen, we have to switch our attention to Livingston straight away,” he said. “The players were entitled to enjoy the victory on the plane last night. We are in a real good place and a positive place.
“But preparation began this morning. We know what to expect. We know Livingston are going to be an organised team, difficult to play against and they will try and hurt us at the right times.
“For me, the challenge is to get the players in the same zone – from a mental and attitude point of view – before kick-off. Then hopefully we can find another positive performance to build on a strong week.”
Meanwhile, Gers do not expect to face disciplinary action over the touch-line bust-up that erupted at the final whistle in Belgium.
Members of the Liege backroom staff burst on to the pitch to confront Roofe over his celebrations, sparking an ugly melee.
The striker made an A and L gesture which the Belgians mistakenly took as a reference to his former club Anderlecht, but it was actually a tribute to his daughters Alarnie and Luna.
And an Ibrox source told the PA news agency: “We’ve been told there will be no further action taken and that the incident wasn’t even mentioned in the referee’s report.
“The manager said it was much ado about nothing after the game and it seems that’s the way it is being looked at.”