When Steven Gerrard confirmed five players had been removed from the Rangers squad after a Covid breach, there was a collective groan from most supporters.
Rangers are flying right now with the 54-time Scottish champions four wins away from claiming the club’s first league title in a decade.
After finishing second for the second time in as many seasons, there was a sense that the club would have to be brave and daring in the transfer market last summer.
And the Gers did not disappoint, signing the likes of Calvin Bassey, Leon Balogun, Jermain Defoe, Cedric Itten, Jon McLaughlin, Kemar Roofe and Bongani Zungu, before bringing in Nnamdi Ofoborh, Jack Simpson and Scott Wright in the latest transfer window.
With Gerrard’s side 15 points clear of Celtic, the club should be brimming with a sense of belief, yet they have been brought crashing back down to earth after two of the aforementioned players breached coronavirus protocols.
Another one was Nathan Patterson, who has been a fringe player for the Gers this season and was briefly linked with a loan move away from Ibrox in January.
Patterson has shown glimpses of his quality during his limited time with the first team since breaking through the academy ranks.
And although he has since been relegated to the fringes of Gerrard’s squad this season, his temporary absence will still leave Rangers short at right-back.
James Tavernier is the club’s only other recognised player in that position and at 29, is arguably Gerrard’s most trusted lieutenant, having started every Premiership game so far this season with 11 goals and 10 assists to show for his 29 starts.
Unfortunately for Gerrard, however, Tavernier was forced off in the first half of the 4-3 win over Antwerp and this has posed some awkward questions for Ross Wilson and co, as it has left the right flank looking rather vulnerable. Patterson could still prove to be a fine player, but Rangers clearly need reinforcements in the summer.
And so it is baffling that they didn’t bolster an area where they evidently lack depth, as they failed to add a single player in this position. Beyond Tavernier, Rangers currently do not have another reliable right-back near the peak of their game. Now they will have to cling to the hope that he hasn’t suffered a long-term injury or at the very least one that will have a significant impact on his performance levels between now and the end of the season.
AND in other Rangers news, Rangers receive James Tavernier injury boost before Antwerp Europa League clash…