Rangers will have Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey available for their upcoming Old Firm Derby on 2 January, as well as their other fixtures in the meantime.
With the Africa Cup of Nations set to start on 9 January, there had been doubt that the Nigerian trio of Balogun, Aribo and Bassey would be available for the Glasgow derby at the start of 2022.
Rangers will travel to Parkhead in what will be Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first game against Celtic as the Light Blues’ manager.
The 46-year-old confirmed when speaking to the press this week that the trio would be available for the derby, stating: “Any players representing at the Africa Cup of Nations will be here for the Old Firm match before being released.”
It will certainly come as a relief to Gers fans to have a bigger squad available than initially thought, particularly for a game of such magnitude.
Not only that, there are Premiership games against Dundee United, St Mirren and Aberdeen to come beforehand in what is set to be a busy festive period for Ban Bronckhorst’s side.
All three players affected could be crucial for Rangers, but the availability of Joe Aribo will be a particular boost. The 25-year-old has six goals and three assists to his name in the Scottish top flight so far this term, as well as featuring in all six of the Gers’ Europa League group stage matches.
Across domestic and European commitments, the 25-year-old has already racked up 30 appearances in 2021/22 for Rangers, achieving the squad’s second-highest WhoScored average performance rating for the season with 7.40.
As for Balogun and Bassey, the former has been absent from the squad in the Gers’ last five league outings, whilst the latter has started to find a regular spot in the team, starting the last ten games across the Premiership and Europa League.
Balogun has won more headers per game (4.5) than any of his team-mates this term, while Bassey has delivered some quietly impressive performances of late. Therefore, it will come as quite a boost for Rangers fans to learn that these two and Aribo should be available for the Celtic clash on 2 January.