Pundit View: Derek Johnstone doesn’t think short off-season will affect Rangers players

Derek Johnstone reckons Rangers won’t be fazed by the short turnaround from the end of last season to pre-season training for 2019/20, as reported by The Evening Times.

What’s he said?

It’s been less than a month since Rangers last played in the Scottish Premiership and the club are due back for training as early as this coming Monday, meaning the concept of an off-season has been more of an extended holiday.

With some players also taking part in recent international matches, the chance to rest up has been exceedingly short and it could be factor when considering upcoming European qualifiers.

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Derek Johnstone reckons it won’t be an issue though, telling The Evening Times:

“People might think they are tired after only having two or three weeks off, but most of the players have had a decent break.

A few of the players, like Steven Davis and Borna Barisic, have had international commitments and Scott Arfield and Nikola Katic still have games to play with Canada and the Croatian Under-21s respectively.

Both of them will need to rest once those fixtures are played and that will have an impact on their participation in the early Europa League qualifiers.

You do need a rest at some stage. You can’t just finish one season and then go straight into the next one. If you have had three or four weeks off, that is enough time for you to relax, recover and then get ready to get back into it again.

Rangers will return to pre-season training next week and Steven Gerrard will expect his players to be raring to go for what could be a really exciting season for us.”

Rangers’ summer challenge

Rangers enter the UEFA Europa League qualifying process at the first round, with the matches due to take place as early as July 9th or 10th. That leaves the squad less than a month to prepare for that initial action, with the opponents to be determined during this coming Monday’s draw.

So soon after last season it’s a massive challenge, even if Johnstone is trying to downplay it. This yearly cycle of football until late May then July qualifiers is gruelling, especially with international matches in between.

Nonetheless, the Rangers squad must rise to the expectations of the pundit and manager Steven Gerrard, who will be expecting his side to comfortably progress through the first couple of qualifying rounds, with the ambition being reaching the group stages for a second successive season.

The money generated is huge for the club and subsequently from the squad, so there can be no tired legs when the action kicks off next month.