RYAN JACK is a captain without the armband, according to Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.

Jack has arguably been Rangers’ best player this season with the midfielder particularly influential against Celtic at Hampden this month.

The 27-year-old has been backed by Gerrard to hold his own on Scotland duty and the Ibrox manager has been enthused by his leadership and application.

“Ryan has taken his game to another level,” he said. “When we watched him in our first pre-season, we saw a good player, a hungry guy with attributes.

“But with him learning how we play and being open to different formations and tactics, and evolving his own game, he deserves credit for becoming an excellent player.

“I think he's in his peak years now. I predict, because of the mentality of the kid, that you'll see a strong Ryan Jack for the next four or five years.

“He's a leader. They understand in-game what's needed. They never lose focus of what they need to do for a positive outcome.

“If we can see the goal, we know Jacko's with us. If we go ahead, we know he's with us. I can rely on him to help us manage a game on the pitch. Those players are hard to find. Without him wearing the armband, he's playing like a captain at the moment.”