By Ibrox News speaking to Alex McLeish

20th Jul, 2021 | 6:10pm

Alex McLeish: Cedric Itten needs to step it up for Rangers this season

We’re delighted to welcome former Rangers manager Alex McLeish as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Ibrox…

Alex McLeish has called on Rangers striker Cedric Itten to build on last campaign’s efforts and present a sterner challenge to his forward rivals this season.

The 24-year-old signed from St Gallen in August 2020 after a goal-laden 2019/20 campaign with the Swiss side, but he was on the fringes of the action for the Gers last season, scoring just six times [WhoScored].

Itten made 37 appearances in all competitions, but the majority of those were as a late substitute as he struggled to find his feet in Glasgow.

However, with uncertainty over the future of star striker Alfredo Morelos who is currently yet to return to pre-season training, there is an opportunity for the Swiss forward to stake a claim for a first-team spot.

He’s made a big case to Steven Gerrard in recent weeks, scoring in friendlies against Partick Thistle and Arsenal, and former Rangers boss McLeish believes now is the time for Itten to prove himself.

“The guys have to grow thick skin and take criticism on board,” McLeish told Ibrox News.

“Whether he [Itten] will make more of an impact this season, we obviously expect that to be the case given he had some decent contributions last year and scored some important goals in certain moments late in games.

“I’m not saying the jury is out but it’s time for them to step up a wee bit and for Itten to hopefully give great competition to the other strikers.”

In fairness to the four-capped Swiss international, breaking into the Gers side last season was an almost impossible mission.

Gerrard masterminded a sensational 2020/21 campaign that saw Rangers go unbeaten over 38 games in the Scottish Premiership, while the club also progressed into the last 16 of the Europa League.

There was a reluctance on the part of the Rangers manager to make wholesale changes for matches, and that meant keeping a fairly consistent starting XI.

Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos are the creative and goal scoring sparks in the side, so they were almost permanent fixtures in the team.

That left just one spot on the right-hand side, and that was rotated between Ianis Hagi and Joe Aribo, while Itten was also given brief opportunities there.

Now, he is thriving in a striking role in the absence of Morelos, and could really kick on this season.

In other Rangers news, this Light Blues attacker is in limbo after English bids complicated his expected 2021/22 Ibrox exit.