Glasgow Rangers have been handed a major injury boost with the news that James Tavernier is available to face Royal Antwerp in the Europa League.
As reported by The Daily Record, via The Daily Mail, the Rangers captain had limped off the pitch during first-team training at Auchenhowie and was a doubt for this evening’s Europa League last-32 tie against Antwerp due to injury.
But Steven Gerrard has branded these reports as “fake news” while speaking to reporters in his pre-match press conference in the build-up to the clash at The Bosuilstadion later today.
Gerrard’s side have been hampered by several setbacks this season, and they have sorely missed star strikers Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe after the pair were hit by retrospective bans from the Scottish FA on charges of violent conduct.
They have also been deprived of the services of the likes of Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield at various points this season and could be without Nathan Patterson for some time after the young right-back was removed from the first-team squad following the latest Covid breach.
However, ahead of the trip to Antwerp, Gerrard has given his side a much-needed boost after he confirmed the skipper is fit to travel to Belgium before the first-leg of their Europa League last-32 clash this evening.
Speaking to Rangers TV, the Ibrox boss said: “We’ve seen recent rumours that James is carrying a niggle which is fake news. There’s nothing in that.”
After Tavernier – who is currently valued at £7.2m via Transfermarkt – was named the Scottish Premiership Player of the Month for September, Gerrard praised the impact of the “powerhouse” and his attitude.
Gerrard said: “He’s looking like the powerhouse we know we can be.
“He returned hungry and his application and return from lockdown has really impressed me.
“The challenge now is to maintain that standard and he really deserves the accolade.”
With 11 goals and nine assists in 29 top-flight appearances, the 29-year-old tops the charts out of the entire Rangers squad in the Premiership this season by some margin, with only Roofe and Morelos his closest rivals on ten and seven goals respectively.
And when you take a closer look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why he’d be such a massive miss for Gerrard if he had been ruled out due to injury. He ranks third for key passes in the Europa League (1.5 per 90), fourth for clearances, and sixth for interceptions, which just goes to show that his all-round game is good and he can put in a shift at the back as well as find the back of the net.
Tavernier leads by example from the back, and thankfully for Gerrard, he has been one of his most reliable performers so far this season.
Rangers fans should now be feeling more confident about their side’s chances of clinching victory in the crunch stage of the competition ahead of the trip to Antwerp.
AND in other Rangers news, Why Steven Gerrard must unleash Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos on Antwerp…