Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst has provided an update on the fitness of defender James Tavernier, following Wednesday’s dismal defeat to Ajax.
Speaking after that 4-0 thrashing in Amsterdam, as per Glasgow Times, the Dutchman revealed the Gers skipper has been carrying a knock in recent games, stating: “Tav had already got a knock a couple of weeks ago and he’s struggling a little bit. Also with his fitness. It was good to change him because we could put Leon in as he was struggling a bit in the first half.”
The attacking full-back had been withdrawn at half-time against the Eredivisie outfit, albeit with Van Bronckhorst seemingly pointing to fitness concerns as the reason behind that surprise switch.
The Englishman is said to have been seen with ice on his leg, as per the report, following his return to the bench after the interval, with there no doubt concern over whether he will be available to feature against Aberdeen in Saturday’s early kick-off at Pittodrie.
Although commendable that the long-serving defender wished to play through the pain in recent weeks, it remains to be seen if that decision has potentially backfired, with possible fears over whether he may have aggravated any issue by continuing to feature.
The 30-year-old had looked way short of his best in what was a gruelling first half for the Old Firm outfit in the Netherlands, notably being shrugged off far too easily by opposition star Mohammed Kudus in the build-up to the youngster’s wonder strike.
Although it is comforting to know that the former Wigan Athletic man is not simply suffering a loss of form, it will be a real worry as to whether he is able to shake off any injury complaint in the coming weeks, amid what is a hectic and seemingly relentless schedule.
With a quick turnaround to come ahead of this weekend’s clash with the Dons, followed by another Champions League tussle with an in-form Napoli side on Tuesday evening at Ibrox, there is little time to catch a breath for Van Bronckhorst’s men at present.
While a rest may be needed for Tavernier against Jim Goodwin’s side, the Glasgow outfit can seemingly ill-afford to lose such a key figure at present, with the club already suffering from a lengthy injury list.
Equally, the visit of the Serie A side in midweek could already be crucial to the club’s hopes of group stage progression, with Rangers likely to need their talismanic skipper in tow – who scored seven goals in last season’s Europa League run – if they are to have any real hope of victory.
There is also the issue of a lack of a true alternative at right-back in the current squad, with the inexperienced Adam Devine – who has made just three senior appearances in his career thus far – the only real figure in reserve.
Amid what could be a crunch period in Van Bronckhorst’s tenure as he desperately searches for a response after successive 4-0 drubbings, an absence to Tavernier is simply the last thing he needs.