Glasgow Rangers have been dealt a devastating injury blow ahead of their Scottish Premiership clash with Dundee United.
Steven Gerrard’s side take on the Tangerines at Ibrox Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
However, Rangers will be without their influential talisman James Tavernier after it was revealed the right-back had suffered a knee injury in Thursday’s Europa League win over Royal Antwerp.
Tavernier limped out of the seven-goal thriller with Antwerp in midweek, and it has now emerged he will have to wait for a scan to determine the full extent of the problem.
The 29-year-old attacking full-back has been an integral part of Gerrard’s side this season but is now facing a spell on the sidelines with his return currently unknown.
“We will see what the scan shows to see what he’s going to miss (Tavernier), he’s obviously going to miss the next few games,” Gerrard said in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“Leon Balogun played well in that position. Ryan Jack can also do a job, so we do have options if required at right-back.
“We are showing the strength & depth of the squad, I would love to play Jack every minute, but I have to protect & look after him, so he is ready and fresh going into the weekend.”
Whilst Gerrard tried to hide his disappointment, there’s no glossing over the fact that this will be a colossal setback for the 54-time Scottish champions.
Nathan Patterson is the only other out and out right-back but has been removed from the first team as he has been forced to self-isolate after breaching coronavirus protocols.
The 19-year-old, who signed a new long-term contract at the club earlier this season, now faces an uncertain future at Ibrox amid an ongoing investigation by the Scottish FA.
Tavernier was voted the Scottish Premiership Player of the Month for September, while a return of 11 goals in 29 top-flight appearances this season sees him top the goal-scoring charts out of the entire Rangers squad, ahead of the likes of Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe.
For context, neither Patterson nor Balogun have completed more than 0.5 shots per game in the Premiership this season, via WhoScored, suggesting that Tavernier is almost a different animal in attack altogether.
And in addition to that, he currently ranks as WhoScored’s top player, both at Ibrox and in the entire SPFL, with an average rating of 7.76 – only reinforcing the idea that the right-back is arguably Gers’ most vital cog.
Therefore, Gerrard will be hard-pressed to find a contributor on both sides of the ball who can better his terrific form from this term and thus, this latest development comes as a crushing and devastating blow.
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