Former Rangers defender Lee McCulloch claims it would be unfair to judge Umar Sadiq solely on his performance during Sunday’s League Cup semi-final defeat to Aberdeen.
The 21-year-old Nigeria Under-23 international made his first start for the Light Blues at Hampden Park following his arrival on loan from Roma in the summer.
Prior to Sunday’s match, he had been limited to just 71 minutes of action as a substitute with manager Steven Gerrard preferring Kyle Lafferty or Alfredo Morelos to lead the line.
However, Sadiq was given the chance to play from the start against Aberdeen with both of those players unavailable.
Despite being given the full 90 minutes, the Nigerian was unable to convert any chances and Rangers were eventually defeated by Lewis Ferguson’s 79th minute strike.
The Gers only managed a single shot on target all match and missed out on a final where they would have faced Celtic.
Fans blasted Sadiq on social media after the game, some going as far to say he they wouldn’t want to see him in a Rangers shirt again while also lamenting the club’s squad depth.
McCulloch, writing in his column for The Evening Times, refused to be as harsh a critic of the forward as others have been following the match.
“I fully expect that everyone will be jumping on the bandwagon now to criticise Umar Sadiq after his performance at Hampden against Aberdeen, but in the circumstances, I think people should give the lad a break,” he wrote.
“I actually thought he did ok, especially in the first-half.”
“As a team, Rangers aren’t the finished article, and Sadiq too is obviously a work in progress.
“He wouldn’t be here on loan from Roma otherwise.”
And McCulloch, who made 289 appearances for Rangers as a player, urged fans of the club to get behind Sadiq instead of writing him off.
“So, I hope that people don’t write him off after one game, particularly as he has hardly seen a lot of game-time.
“It was a hell of a match to be thrown into, so I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully the fans will too.”
Some supporters will take rather more convincing than McCulloch that Sadiq has a future at the club, even if Gerrard involves him in tomorrow night’s league match with Kilmarnock.