Steven Gerrard reckons Rangers are reaping the rewards of the “real” Joe Aribo as he looks to finish the campaign in style and with a Premiership medal.
The midfielder was instrumental in the 4-1 win over Dundee United on Sunday as Gerrard’s side took another step towards their first league crown in a decade.
It was the latest in a line of cultured and classy performances from the playmaker that was capped with a powerful strike from the edge of the area.
Aribo was a real miss for the Gers during a prolonged injury lay-off earlier in the season, but continues to show his worth at Ibrox after also scoring in the win over Royal Antwerp in midweek.
Gerrard said: “In terms of Joe, the real Aribo is back now. At the beginning of the season he suffered the first injury of his career and as someone who has experienced that myself, it’s a big shock to the system.
“I think he took his time returning from that in terms of getting his power, strength and bursts of energy that he plays with back.
“He had an illness on the back of that injury so it became a three month absence and that always takes time to get back up to speed.
“But now you see the real Aribo. Power, strength, bursts from midfield and skills – and now letting shots go because he’s got the quality. It was a fantastic strike and he’s back for real now.
“I think Joe found it hard himself because [the injury] was new to him.
“It was the first time he’d suffered an injury longer than a couple of weeks.
“That’s a shock to the system. I think he was wondering why he couldn’t just roll back up and be perfect from the off. It doesn’t work like that.
“It’s a process of getting training volume in the legs, doing weights in the gym to get your strength back and then training each day to improve your fitness levels and your lung capacity.
“It’s only a matter of time but he just needed guiding through that first injury.
“I think the sports science guys did a great job getting him fit – but then he had to get football fit and then get his feel back.
“But he’s been absolutely fantastic in this latest run of games and he’s contributing really well. He’s a fantastic talent, great to work with, low maintenance.”