Rangers will be looking to put their Champions League exit behind them tonight when they take on Dunfermline Athletic at Ibrox in the Scottish League Cup, although Steven Gerrard’s side will have to cope without new signing Fashion Sakala.
Gerrard confirmed in his pre-match conference that the 24-year-old had picked up a minor groin injury which will rule him out of the game against the Championship side, which is a blow to Rangers’ hopes of progressing to the next round.
The Zambian striker impressed with his performances in pre-season, scoring the equalising goal in the memorable win against Real Madrid, which led Gerrard to sing his praises as he said: “He’s come in with an incredible attitude. He’s been an absolute role model to everyone.
“He’s come here with energy, he’s been bright, wanting to learn and pick up every bit of information. He’s smiling, he’s enjoying it and he’s grateful to be here.
“He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with, but there’s loads more to come. You can see he’s exciting.”
Sakala struggled to impress against Livingston on the opening day when starting up front, before missing the defeat against Dundee United through injury and returning briefly against Malmo in midweek.
While they are minor injuries, Rangers fans could well be concerned that he has already missed two different games through separate problems so early in the season and will be hoping that he doesn’t prove to be injury-prone throughout his debut season with the club.
Following the Champions League exit, Rangers may well be forced to cash in on the likes of Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent, which suggests that Sakala could have an important part to play as a regular starter in Gerrard’s side.
Friday’s match against weaker opposition could have been the ideal time for Sakala to get his first competitive goal for the club and build his confidence, so it is undoubtedly a blow for both Rangers and the 24-year-old that he isn’t fit enough to feature tonight.