IT was the split-second decision that ultimately cost Jordan Jones for months rather than weeks. Steven Gerrard hopes the lesson learned lasts a lifetime.

The Northern Irishman was living the dream in the opening weeks of his Ibrox career but a moment of madness turned his Old Firm debut, and then his season until now, into a nightmare.

A reckless and needless tackle on Moritz Bauer saw him sent off in the closing stages of a 2-0 defeat to Celtic but it was the knee damage sustained that would really hurt Jones.

That game in September was his 10th of the season and only time will tell if he makes his next one when former club Kilmarnock visit Ibrox on Boxing Day. If not, he could return to action when the Old Firm resume hostilities at Parkhead this weekend.

Jones knew he had nobody to blame but himself as he was ruled out of Rangers’ Europa League campaign, bid for the Betfred Cup and a series of huge Premiership fixtures.

And boss Gerrard is confident his summer signing will return wiser from an incident that could have ended his Ibrox career before it was really off and running.

“Jordan has got more training under his belt now,” Gerrard said. “Last week he trained but I didn’t see the real Jordan Jones, the way he was before he got the injury.

“So if we see that in training this week, then he will give me something to think about.

“I think it would be very naive from a personal point of view if he hasn’t learned from that, because he has missed a big chunk of the season.

“This was a huge move for Jordan, it was the move he had his eye on for a long time. So for it to come and then for him to miss a big chunk already, he’s got it all to do.

“So I’m really looking forward to welcoming him back and seeing his reaction from missing such a big part of the season.

“He knew himself, you only had to look at his face in the dressing room after that game against Celtic.

“Then in the weeks after it, when he got the news of the extent of the injury - it wasn’t the start to his Rangers career that he would have wanted. So he needs to make up for lost time.”

Jones arrived at Ibrox with doubters to win over amongst his own support but his performances in the first weeks of the campaign endeared him to the Light Blue legions.

He was an impressive figure in the win away to Midtjylland and had a key role in helping the Gers qualify for the Europa League group stages as Alfredo Morelos scored the decisive goal in their play-off tie.

Now the 25-year-old must pick up where he left off as he looks to return to action before the Premiership shutdown at the end of the week.

Gerrard said: “We have seen moments of the level of performance that we want from Jordan. The ball he put in for Alfredo’s header against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League play-off was the reason we brought him to the club.

“He can make the difference when games are tight. He is excellent in the one-versus-one.

“We want him to be more aggressive and direct, get more numbers in his game. We are really looking forward to seeing that.

“But he’s certainly had a frustrating time in his Rangers career so far. We can’t wait to see the real Jordan Jones going forward.”

The return of Jones is a welcome one for boss Gerrard but having another Northern Irishman back in the fold could be even more significant at Ibrox.

Steven Davis missed the Hampden defeat to Celtic, draw with Young Boys and wins over Motherwell and Hibernian after picking up a foot injury at Pittodrie.

Rangers have coped in his absence but having the midfielder available once again gives Gerrard welcome options, and a selection headache.

Gerrard said: “We look forward to welcoming him back. He’s been terrific for us this season.

“The injury was a blow for him and us because we all know the form he was in prior to it. If he can get that form back as quickly as possible, it will be very welcome.

“The midfield area has been very strong and consistent whoever we have put in there. With Scott Arfield dropping back a line, his last three or four performances have probably been his strongest of the season.

“But we can’t do it with just three players, that’s not enough over the course of 60 games. Touch wood, but during the course of 60 games they are all going to get an injury or suspension at some point.

“So I have to prepare for that. But it’s been really encouraging to know that even if someone is missing for two to three games, like Steven has, then we are capable of coping. It doesn’t have an effect on the team or performance.”