Glasgow Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has suffered a fresh blow ahead of their crucial Europa League tie this evening…
Speaking ahead of kick-off, Gerrard confirmed that midfield favourite Ryan Jack would not be involved as the Scottish Premiership champions host Slavia Prague, even though he is seemingly close to a return to action. Jack missed the first-leg tie, but Gerrard said at the time that he could have played but that the Rangers staff chose not to risk him.
Scotland were keen to have Jack as part of their squad, which Steven Gerrard has spoken to Steve Clarke about, which suggests he is close to a return, but tonight’s game, unfortunately, comes too soon for Jack to feature in, suggesting he’s had a bit of a setback, given that he was seemingly fit to play last week.
Gerrard said, via the Daily Record:
“I had a chat with Steve Clarke and obviously that will remain private.
“We’ve been in touch over Ryan and a few other players for some time now but I’m not going to divulge what gets said in the conversation. I don’t think that’s fair or respectful.
“We will make a decision on the weekend when we need to but he is ruled out for tomorrow’s game.”
The 29-year-old missed last week’s 1-1 draw in the Czech Republic and is now a major doubt for the Old Firm derby this weekend.
Even though they’ve secured their first title in ten years, this update will come as a major setback for Gerrard and Rangers.
In terms of central midfield options this season, the Scottish powerhouse tops the charts for average WhoScored rating (7.03) ahead of veteran Steven Davis (7.01), Glen Kamara (6.93), Scott Arfield (6.67) and Bongani Zungu (6.26), so evidently, he’s Gerrard’s best man when available.
Speaking about the situation last week, the 40-year-old revealed he was “upset” by the injury and reinforced Jack’s influence to the side. He added: “He’s so important to us.”
Admittedly, he’s vital to Rangers’ fortunes – for creativity in the middle, there’s no one better as he’s managed one key pass per game, which is more than the aforementioned quartet of alternative options, whilst 1.1 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per match suggest he’s just as prominent defensively – only Davis betters such returns, via WhoScored.
It is this ability to read the game and snuff out any danger which could prove to be a big miss on the night, especially in such a huge fixture.
Ex-Gers star Thomas Buffel recently compared him to Barry Ferguson, which is high praise indeed. He told The Sun: “His consistency levels are incredible and he is the one player the manager can always rely on. He really reminds me of Barry — and that is the highest compliment I can pay him.”
If Gerrard’s side loses tonight, then their European dream is over for another season and their chances of finding a way past the Czech champions will be all that more harder without the industrious Jack pulling the strings in the engine room.