FIRST impressions can often be deceiving. In the case of Ryan Kent, that initial view has proven to be wrong for many.

When Steven Gerrard was in the process of overhauling his Rangers squad in the summer, it was inevitable that he would be linked with a handful of players from Liverpool.

Rumours of loan deals for sought-after talents like Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn were persistent, as was the more fanciful notion that striker Dominic Solanke would make the move from Anfield to Ibrox.

There was a degree of scepticism amongst supporters, then, when Kent and Ovie Ejaria were the Reds kids that Gerrard completed deals for.

Neither had the acclaim of Wilson or the international exposure of Woodburn. While one move was a failure, the other has been an undoubted success.

Ejaria never seemed to fit in, on or off the park, at Rangers and it became evident fairly early on that he wasn’t going to have the kind of impact that Gerrard needed from him.

His goal in Ufa that clinched a Europa League berth will be fondly remembered by supporters, but there were few disappointed when he cut short his stay in Glasgow before the January window even opened.

In Kent’s case, many are already thinking ahead to the summer market and wondering whether Gerrard will be able to retain the services of the winger for more than the single season that he has signed up for.

The 22-year-old scored his fifth goal of the campaign in the win over St Mirren, a direct run and dinked finish capping off another sterling performance as he switched between a central role and a place on the left wing.

“He’s been excellent for us,” Gerrard said on Saturday. “He’s in good form, he’s happy but I’m going to keep pushing him because I want him to be hungrier to score more goals and I want him to keep being hungry to improve his numbers.

“Today he could have got two goals, maybe three, so it was a good performance and I think he’s got man of the match, but for me it’s my job to push him and that’s what I’ll do.”

It was evident at the start of the campaign that Kent possessed a natural flair and in-built turn of foot but his game has come on significantly as he has become an integral part of the Rangers attack.

Initial fears that he would be too lightweight or too inconsistent to really have an impact at Ibrox were quickly allayed and he is a more well-rounded player now than he was when he first pulled on the Light Blue jersey.

That is undoubtedly a positive for Gerrard, but it is the ultimate catch-22 for Rangers. They want to reap the rewards of Kent’s abilities, but the better he becomes the more attractive he will be to clubs with greater financial muscle.

In an interview with the Liverpool Echo last week, Reds’ Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe stated that Kent and Wilson – who has starred for Frank Lampard’s Derby this term – have earned an ‘audition’ for Jurgen Klopp’s first team squad thanks to their loan efforts.

The chances of Kent going back to Anfield and immediately winning a place in the attacking line alongside the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane are somewhat slim. He could be given an opportunity to show what he can do, though.

If now is not the time for him to make his Premier League breakthrough, Kent will surely not be short of suitors in the Championship and it would be no surprise if Rangers face stiff competition to land him, either on another loan or permanently, in the summer.

The dialogue over that possibility will continue behind the scenes and the relationship between player and manager could just be the factor that swings it in Rangers’ favour.

If another deal could be done, there would be few dissenting voices this time around and the Light Blue legions will hope Kent gets a second chance to make another impression at Ibrox.