Ryan Hardie’s return from injury couldn’t realistically have gone any better.
After a brief run out against Kilmarnock at the beginning of the month, he netted in his first start against his former team St Mirren, before scoring an excellent brace during the 5-0 thumping of Hearts.
Last Saturday, he brought his goal tally up to four, earning Livingston a point against Hibs.
However, amidst talk of a return and prominent role at Rangers, it must be remembered that this is a player who is not yet 100% fit.
He missed 16 matches with a knee injury, and although his form has been great, a long term injury takes time to fully overcome.
That fact has been evidenced by how Livi’s manager, Gary Holt, has handled his prized loanee.
Hardie not yet 100% fit
He has only actually completed the full 90 minutes once since his return. That was as he chased a hat-trick against Hearts on 14th December.
On each other occasion he has started, he has been withdrawn early.
In the 68th minute against St Mirren, the 75th against Hibs and the 67th in yesterday’s goalless draw with Dundee.
With the scores deadlocked yesterday, a man in Hardie’s form was the most likely match-winner for Livi. However, the manager clearly still feels he isn’t fully fit, and is looking to avoid overloading the striker.
It remains to be seen, whether or not the 21-year-old stays out on loan or returns to Rangers in January.
Regardless though, it must be remembered, that this very promising player is still getting up to speed.