Rangers fans will have been keeping a close eye on the England vs Croatia game on Sunday afternoon, not only because both teams are in Scotland’s group, but also because Borna Barisic was set to represent Zlatko Dalic’s side at Wembley.
However, an injury saw him miss out on the squad, one which could prove to be a blow for Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit ahead of next season.
After a superb season for the Gers, which saw the 28-year-old contribute five goals and 14 assists in 50 appearances in all competitions, it was no surprise that he earned a call up to the Croatian side ahead of the European Championships this summer.
Barisic is arguably Croatia’s first-choice at left-back but unfortunately, he missed the opening game of the Euros against Gareth Southgate’s side, and they fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Dalic confirmed after Barisic missed out on the squad for the game against England that:
“Barisic has had problems with injuries for the last ten days, Gvardiol is now the most prepared.”
He doesn’t allude to how long the defender will be out for, but the last thing Gerrard needs is one of his key players returning injured ahead of next season, which is set to kick off in around six weeks time, with Rangers confirmed to be facing Livingston in the opening game at Ibrox on July 31st.
The fact that he went into the Euros with an issue, and that he has picked up another, suggests that Barisic isn’t 100% fit and firing. Given Croatia’s precarious position in their group, it would not be a shock if the defender pushes to get back for their upcoming game with the Czech Republic and if he goes into that game without having fully recovered, he risks further aggravating his injury.
The former Osijek man missed the final few games of last season after picking up an injury in the Old Firm derby, which forced Gerrard to deploy Joe Aribo at left-back due to Calvin Bassey also being missing through suspension, and the 40-year-old will surely be desperate to avoid a similar situation as they get their title defence underway next month.
If Barisic’s injury issue does end up costing him time at the start of next season, then he may well have already played his last game for the Gers, when you consider that he has been attracting serious interest from the Premier League in recent weeks, which could well see him depart Ibrox in the current transfer window.
Given his ability as a player, it’s easy to see why Premier League clubs would be keen to sign him and if a big-money offer comes in, it could be tough for Rangers to prevent him from moving on.
It would be a massive blow for the Gers to lose the “exceptional” defender and their fans will be desperate for him to make a swift recovery with Croatia so he is fit in time for the start of the next campaign, as they’ll be keen to see him in a blue shirt once again.