Nacho Novo has backed Kemar Roofe to fill Alfredo Morelos’ boots and ensure Rangers aren’t firing blanks in two of the biggest showdowns of the season.
The Englishman defiantly claimed he had nothing to prove to anyone after bagging his first Gers hat-trick in Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing of St Mirren.
But Novo reckons Roofe will be gunning to show he is the number one striker at the club in a monumental few days in domestic and European competition.
Roofe is likely to get the nod to lead the line against Braga on Thursday as Rangers look to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in the Europa League quarter final.
Then comes a Hampden showdown with Celtic in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi final.
And Novo, who struck 73 goals in six years for Gers, reckons Roofe has the intelligence in the number nine role to ensure crocked Morelos’ absence isn’t costly.
Get all the latest Rangers news sent straight to your Inbox every day by signing up to our newsletter.
We cover every morsel of information regarding your favorite club in the form of articles, videos and podcasts.
The newsletter will arrive every day at 12pm, giving you a round up of the best stories we’ve covered that in the last 24 hours.
To sign up, simply enter your email address into the link here.
And if you aren’t already, make sure you join the conversation over on our Rangers Facebook group and Record Sport Instagram.
Novo said: “For me, Roofe is the main man right now.
“You can see his movement and he will create chances with that.
“He still has to put them away but his goal return is good.
“Now we will see on Thursday and Sunday what he can do. They are two massive games for Rangers and their season.
“Roofe is a great player. He is always in the right place and he showed that against St Mirren on Sunday.
“Morelos will be a big miss as he is one of the best players in the team.
“Since he has come to Rangers he is getting better and better every year.
“But he is injured now and Roofe has to prove he can play every game and score goals.
“For his first two goals on Sunday he found a yard of space inside the area and he is so clever.
“It’s a difficult thing to do but he found that area and he knew where the ball was going to be and showed he knows where the goal is.
“I think it will be good for him to get the chance to show he can be Rangers No. 1 striker.”
Roofe’s treble took his Rangers tally to an impressive 33 goals in 69 games despite many of those appearances being off the wing or even the bench.
Novo knows what it’s like to play second fiddle in the striking stakes at Ibrox having been behind Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller for much of his time in Govan.
But one thing that won’t be afforded to Roofe is time to get up to speed as the fight on three fronts – league, Scottish Cup and Europa League – comes to a crunch.
He said: “Does it take games to get up to sharpness? It can do but I think it is up to the player to show they are ready when needed.
“I have been there myself and it can be difficult not playing but it’s up to you to be fit and sharp.
“I believe if you are training full-time every single day and you push yourself to the limit then you are good to go when the manager needs you.
“Roofe has shown what he can do so I don’t think he needs time.
“It will be interesting to see what he can do but I believe in him 100 per cent.”
• Nacho Novo was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Celtic v Rangers this Sunday from 1pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £9.99 per month and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.