Glasgow Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack has been ruled out of the crunch Old Firm clash with Celtic after picking up a knee injury against Aberdeen.
Rangers’ worst fears have now been realised and Light Blues boss Steven Gerrard confirmed the news to Glasgow Times’ Christopher Jack (no relation to Ryan).
Gerrard said: “I made it quite clear that it was important we got someone in the door before the window shut.
“Getting Bongani [Zungu] up to speed was the priority because over the course of the season, with the schedule we have, we were always going to get a knock or two.
“Ryan Jack being out for the amount of time he has has been a real disappointment for me.
“Scott Arfield’s absence is a bit of bad luck from a challenge he had against Hibs. So it does make us slightly light in that area.”
Jack has been sidelined since November after he suffered an injury against his former club Aberdeen. He was replaced by Steven Davis who could now find himself thrown in for the game against Celtic.
The 28-year-old’s absence will be a bitter blow for the Ibrox boss in the midfield as he has established himself as an integral part of Gerrard’s side.
Jack’s injury struggles have been well-documented but he has still managed to start 12 of his 13 appearances in the Premiership this season, via Transfermarkt.
With games coming thick and fast this month, the timing couldn’t be any worse for Gerrard, who already faces the prospect of juggling domestic and European competitions without two of his key men for the foreseeable future.
Steven Davis has done a stellar job for Gerrard in his absence and he is another option for the Rangers manager ahead of the pivotal Premiership clash with Celtic trailing 16 points behind the league leaders.
However, the 35-year-old midfielder was far from his very best against St. Mirren – he lost possession 11 times, as per SofaScore – which will no doubt give Gerrard some real cause for concern heading to the clash with their arch rivals.
The only real other option is Zungu, who arrived at Ibrox from French Ligue 2 side Amiens on an initial loan deal with the option to buy on transfer deadline day.
But the Bafana-Bafana midfielder has yet to start for the Gers in the Scottish top flight this season as he has so far failed to find the back of the net or record a single assist in 10 appearances across all competitions, via Transfermarkt.
Jack has shown time and again that he can be a big-game player for the 54-time Scottish champions. After all, he scored in the first half to inflict former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers’ first defeat in the Old Firm in 2018.
This game could be make-or-break for Gerrard’s managerial career, who faces some tough decisions before kick-off on Saturday afternoon. He will certainly have to consider his midfield options very carefully indeed as he simply cannot afford to slip-up.
AND in other news, Glasgow Rangers must recall Ryan Kent to face Celtic in Old Firm derby…