Ryan Jack’s continued injury absence for Rangers is a big problem for the defensive solidity of the team, according to former Gers and Scotland right-back Alan Hutton.
The Lowdown: Jack still out injured
Steven Gerrard’s side have made an up-and-down start to their season, topping the Scottish Premiership table but not always convincing in the competition, as well as being knocked out of the Champions League and losing to Lyon in the Europa League.
Rangers have been without Jack since back in February, with the midfielder still working his way back from a persistent calf problem.
Gary McAllister has confirmed that the 29-year-old is ‘still missing and working hard to get back to full fitness‘ currently, as he looks to return sooner rather than later.
The Latest: Pundit bemoans absence
Speaking to Football Insider after McAllister’s 11-word update, Hutton bemoaned the fact that Jack is still unavailable, claiming the hole in front of the defence has become a big problem:
“The main thing from last year, for me, is Ryan Jack’s missing. I think he’s a huge loss. If you watch the game on Sunday (v Motherwell), Tavernier and Barisic are high up the pitch and Kevin van Veen picks up the ball in behind Tavernier.
“In those kind of spaces, Ryan Jack fills them last season. He goes back into position and covers for the likes of Tavernier. That didn’t happen.
“There was a gap in behind, you need to show him down the line which he wasn’t. He was shown infield which makes Connor Goldson come right out his comfort zone into a wide area.
“Jack Simpson is slow to recognise where the danger is and move across. He can’t cover Goldson who has went out wide. It’s just a kind of mistake after mistake.
“You’re chasing your tail a little bit to try and get a block in. These are the things that seem to be rearing their ugly head game after game.
“It’s simple things but if every single player is making just a little mistake it creates a bigger mistake. From the outside looking in, Ryan Jack is a huge loss.
“He’s very good defensively, he can sniff out danger, can close down spaces really well. They need him back to try and get back into that defensive shape and really help out the team.”
The Verdict: Vital he returns soon
Hutton is correct in his assessment, with Jack’s all-round game so effective for Rangers last season, with 16 league starts coming his way as Gerrard’s men clinched title glory.
The hope is that he returns in the near future, adding stability to the Gers’ midfield and bringing more consistency to the team, in terms of both performances and results.
An average of 1.1 tackles and interceptions per game apiece in the league in 2020/21 proved to be effective and that can again be the case upon his return.
In other news, one pundit has discussed a potential loan move involving Rangers. Read more here.
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