A fresh twist has emerged on Rangers’ contingent of players who are set to play for their country at the African Cup of Nations at the start of 2022.
According to the Sunday Mail, via Ibrox News, the Gers are confident that they will be able to strike a deal with Nigeria that will see Calvin Bassey, Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo available to face Celtic on the 2nd of January.
The report claims that the players are due to depart to link up with their national squad on the 27th of December, which would see them miss matches away at Aberdeen and Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.
However, Rangers are now working to find a solution to have them available for both games before heading to AFCON.
Rangers fans will surely be buzzing by this twist as it suggests that the club will have all three players in the squad for the two huge matches against Aberdeen and Celtic. It goes without saying how important the game against the Hoops is and Steven Gerrard will want as many of his best players available as possible.
Aribo and Balogun, in particular, are crucial members of the squad whose absences would be felt in any matches they miss. They have averaged SofaScore ratings of 7.04 and 7.10 respectively in the Premiership this season, with Aribo starting all 10 games and Balogun starting eight.
This highlights the quality they provide on the pitch, but also the consistency and the fact that Gerrard trusts them to play week-in-week-out in his team. That is why fans will be delighted to read that they may both be able to play against Aberdeen and Celtic.
It would be wrong to ignore Bassey’s importance to the side as well. Despite only starting four Premiership games, he has provided Gerrard with the option to give Borna Barisic a rest from time to time. An average SofaScore rating of 7.10 also shows that he can produce top-quality performances when called upon, which could be useful if Barisic is injured for that spell at the end of the year.
If Nigeria make it all the way to the final, all three players would miss the fourth round of the Scottish Cup and Premiership games against Livingston, Ross County and Hearts. Whilst this is a blow on its own, fans will be buzzing if the trio are available for the Old Firm derby.