As Rangers stumble their way through the early part of the season, many feel an Ibrox stalwart has began to show early signs of burnout.
At 36, Steven Davis is the single oldest outfield player to turn out in the Scottish Premiership this season, not that age has ever seemed to slow the Northern Irish international captain down.
But as this shrewd, intelligent and at times vital operator for Rangers continues to defy the odds, in the last matches with Lyon and Motherwell we’ve seen flashes of a player looking overworked.
Always putting himself up for selection be it for club or country, Davis is at a period of a career where Rangers and Northern Ireland will get more out of the player by managing him effectively.
After all, be you a Northern Ireland fan, a bluenose or both, having Davis at 100% a total of 70% of the time is better than having Davis at 70% a total of 100% of the time.
The midfielder is a remarkably influential player on and off the pitch and his intelligence is played out by the way he maps games out in front of him both in and out of possession.
But against both the Ligue 1 club and the men from Fir Park Davo looked an inch off it, with passes overhit and that same in game management lacking its usual composure.
Best exemplified by an overhit pass to Glen Kamara in the second half of the Flag Day clash with Motherwell, it’s got plenty believing that perhaps Davis needs a breather.
For me this was the moment that changed the momentum of the 2nd half completely…. pic.twitter.com/2swuFP8Wqk
— Stevie Souness ✪ (@steviesouness) September 20, 2021
But for Rangers, there is a real issue with a drop in quality no matter who you opt to bring into the role.
John Lundstram – more a box-to-box type than a deep lying playmaker – took over the role in the latter stages of Lyon and had enough about him to impress some of hard to please Rangers support.
Stephen Kelly – a player who has all the talent and has been tasked with proving it this season – remains raw with asking him to full-on replace Davo perhaps a little too much too young.
It begs the question then why did Rangers did not go and sign someone who could dovetail with the Northern Irish captain this season?
Because if playing him even when he’s not 100% is seriously the preferred option to what we have, then there’s something to be said for a lack of foresight in our recruitment this summer.
Whilst the club never signed a direct replacement for Davo, one player routinely linked to Ibrox this summer has had a bright start to the season at his current club.