Glasgow Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has been dealt a devastating blow after Ryan Jack suffered yet another injury setback which ruled him out of the Boxing Day clash with Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership at Ibrox.
The ex-Aberdeen midfielder hasn’t played since the 4-0 victory over his former club last month – let alone kicked a football – after he had to be substituted in the second half after appearing to pick up a knock.
Without wishing to add insult to injury, Jack had only worked his way back to fitness a couple of weeks prior following a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a calf injury he sustained during the 4-0 win over Dundee United.
This latest setback has cast fresh concerns about his fitness ahead of the second Old Firm derby of the season, as the 28-year-old defensive-minded midfielder has made just 13 appearances in the Premiership so far this season.
The Ibrox boss will have no doubt been hoping the Scotland international would have been fit to face Celtic following his return to action in November, having scored the matchwinner against their Old Firm rivals a couple of years ago.
Instead, he will most likely be forced to sit and watch from the sidelines with Gerrard insisting he will not be risked against St Mirren in Paisley on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, Ryan won’t be back for the Hibs game,” he said, as quoted by The Scotsman. “It has taken a little bit longer than we thought, so that is just not clear at the moment. I don’t really want to rush that, so he won’t be available for the next game.”
Gerrard will also be without Scott Arfield to face the Saints after he limped off the pitch with an ankle injury as Rangers recorded their 12th consecutive Premiership victory in a row.
“I’m worried about it because Scott doesn’t come off the pitch in normal circumstances,” Gerrard said.
“He doesn’t normally ask for a physio to come on, he’s one who will just normally just get up and go.
“He’s a brave kid, so I’m concerned about it. We’ll assess it. He’s got ice on the ankle area but until it actually gets scanned and assessed properly, I’ve got nothing more for you (on how it is) unfortunately.”
He now faces a mammoth task to pick up three points against Celtic with at least two key players considered a doubt for the Old Firm showdown with Neil Lennon’s side at Ibrox on Saturday,
Arfield scored his seventh goal of the season against Standard Liege in the Europa League dead rubber at the start of the month, while Jack has been an integral part of Gerrard’s side over the past few years or so.
There’s no doubt their absences will be a big blow for Gerrard, who has already had to content with a number of injuries to first-team regular starters since the start of the season.
With trips to Aberdeen and Hibernian on the horizon, he cannot afford any more injuries, that’s for sure.