Former Rangers striker Zak Rudden netted a brace for Partick Thistle against Ayr United at the weekend as his strong start to the season continues.
Rudden came up through the ranks at Ibrox but with no competitive first-team opportunities on the horizon following loan spells at Falkirk and Plymouth Argyle, he moved to Firhill on a permanent deal in January 2020.
Rangers inserted a buy-back clause into the deal in case he produced outstanding form in Maryhill.
However, given that Jags boss Ian McCall claimed the summer of 2021 was the window in which it could be triggered, it looks as though the Gers ultimately opted against bringing him back to Ibrox.
Rudden had a difficult first year at Thistle with the pandemic and a series of injuries restricting his playing time.
However, he netted seven goals in the final few months of 2020/21 to help them to promotion from League One and now, he’s starting to shine in the Championship.
The 21-year-old scored twice on Saturday afternoon as the Jags hammered Ayr United 4-0, with his goals – both assisted by Scott Tiffoney – coming in the 34th and 72nd minutes.
Tiffoney's cross is met by Zak Rudden who loops an effort high into the net. https://t.co/XDnSEFtA8B
— Partick Thistle FC (@PartickThistle) October 2, 2021
He’s now scored four times in his last five league outings, having also found the net in a defeat to Raith Rovers and a win over Morton.
Add in two early-season strikes against Dunfermline and Stenhousemuir in the Premier Sports Cup and he has a strong return at this stage in the campaign of six goals and an assist from 12 appearances across all competitions.
With the likes of Alfredo Morelos, Fashion Sakala and Kemar Roofe all available to Steven Gerrard and a number of exciting youngsters coming through, it’s understandable that the Gers would opt against bringing Rudden back to the club.
However, the Scotland youth international is beginning to realise the potential he showed at age group level and he could well be playing Premiership football next season if Thistle can start consistently performing at the level they reached at the weekend.
Rangers loanee Lewis Mayo is also currently at Firhill and he played the full 90 minutes of Saturday’s win at centre-back.