THE goals that Ryan Kent has scored this term tell the story of his season.

All eight have come in some of Rangers' biggest games and at times when Steven Gerrard has needed his most expensive summer recruit to stand up and be counted. But there has not been enough of those moments and Kent, like Gerrard, will end the campaign empty-handed.

The debate about whether Rangers are getting value for the £7million they paid Liverpool on deadline day has been going on almost since he put pen-to-paper.

Kent has often dismissed the notion that the fee added extra pressure on him ahead of his second term under Gerrard's guidance at Ibrox, but there is no doubt that more is expected from the winger because of the cash that Rangers parted with.

When questions have been asked about Kent's performances and his return in the final third, Gerrard has been passionate in his defence of his player. He also demands more, though, partly because Rangers need it and partly because he knows that Kent is capable of posting better numbers and of becoming an even greater threat in the final third.

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The injury he sustained on his debut against Livingston got the campaign off to a false start and it took until November for Kent to open his account. When he did, his two goals against Hamilton turned and won the game. A week later, he netted the decisive second goal as Rangers eased to a 5-0 win over Hearts and momentum was built.

It was Kent that opened the scoring as Hibernian were swept aside before he set the Gers on their way to the Old Firm victory that should have been the foundations for a title challenge this term.

That, of course, hasn't materialised and Kent found himself under the spotlight as Rangers' season unravelled and their silverware ambitions were ended. Another goal against Hearts couldn't prevent Gerrard's side suffering a defeat that was the beginning of the end for their Premiership ambitions.

The criticism during that period was justified. Regardless of the fee, Rangers were not getting enough of an attacking return from a player that was capable of so much better.

That is what Kent delivered in Braga. His fine finish that won the tie for Rangers was one of the moments of the season and one which ensured Gerrard still has European ambitions as attentions turn to the visit of Bayer Leverkusen this week.

It is a tie that Rangers can approach on the back of a win and Kent will surely have had his confidence boosted after hitting the winner against Ross County on Sunday.

Kent was switched to the right of the forward line following a second half reshuffle and it was from that side that he would cut in and hit the shot that took a deflection and beat Ross Laidlaw to clinch victory.

Gerrard had been keen to get Rangers in one v one situations down that flank and Ianis Hagi was withdrawn from the right flank. When Jordan Jones was introduced, he went to his more natural left side and Kent made an instant impact when he moved over.

Gerrard said: “Ryan got the winner and that’s good for him and I’m pleased that he took the challenge on at half-time because some players feel sorry for themselves and others stand up to the challenge, and he did.”

When Kent scored in Braga, it was not unreasonable to suggest he would net Rangers' next goal. Few would have believed it would come after Gerrard's side failed to score against Hearts and Hamilton, though.

The 23-year-old has provided some big moments in big games for Rangers but he has not contributed consistently enough overall. It is one thing rising to the occasion as an underdog, but quite another being able to lead from the front when the pressure is on in the title race.

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Kent is almost symptomatic of Rangers this season. The finest outings earn plaudits and offer hope of more to come, but the levels haven't been hit with the regularity that has been required.

He is still serenaded by supporters to the tune of Joy Division but there will be no silverware for fans to sing about this season.

That cannot, of course, be blamed on Kent but, like many of Gerrard's players, he will look back at recent weeks with regret and question his contribution to the side.

The matches with Leverkusen and Celtic are the kind of stages that bring out the best in Kent and it would be no surprise if he rises to the challenge but high levels must be maintained going forward. He needs to tear teams apart again and again.