Steven Gerrard has suffered a big blow at Ibrox after it was revealed that Rangers defender Nathan Patterson will be suspended for four games after he and five other teammates broke lockdown restrictions earlier in the season.
With James Tavernier only making a return to training recently, the manager faces a real headache as to who to select at right-back for upcoming fixtures, with Patterson set to miss the games against Cove Rangers, Hibernian and St Johnstone, as well as the Old Firm derby, although that could change depending on whether or not the Light Blues progress in Sunday’s cup tie.
After being internally punished by the club, the 19-year-old has managed to work his way back into Gerrard’s good books with recent strong performances and has really stepped up in the absence of Tavernier.
The teenager impressively scored his first goal in Rangers colours in the 5-2 Europa League win against Royal Antwerp and has been a regular in the first team since then, starting four of the last five games before the international break.
After that goalscoring return, Gerrard was full of praise for Patterson, saying: “He’s got an opportunity and he needs to learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen again. He’s a wonderful footballer with a big future ahead of him.”
With Tavernier unlikely to be thrown straight back into the fray, it seems as if Gerrard has a huge decision to make. He may have to put his faith in Leon Balogun in the right-back position for upcoming fixtures, although the Nigerian struggled there in the Old Firm derby and against Royal Antwerp recently.
Although the title is already wrapped up, Gerrard will be desperate to finish the season unbeaten, so the lack of a natural right-back for upcoming fixtures could prove to be a blow for the 40-year-old manager.