Rangers supporters in the Transfer Tavern are looking forward to their side’s return to action against Aberdeen at Ibrox on Wednesday night, with the Gers seeking to begin 2018 with a crucial three points against the second place Dons.
Graeme Murty’s men finished 2017 with a spirited goalless draw away at Old Firm rivals Celtic on December 30, a result which kept them third in the Scottish Premiership table and 11 points adrift of Brendan Rodgers’ side at the turn of the year. But given the turbulent year they endured under former boss Pedro Caixinha, including an embarrassing defeat to Proges Niederkorn in the Europa League back in the summer, there is some optimism among our resident Rangers fans that 2018 could be a much better year for their club.
Yet those Gers supporters lining up at the bar are unlikely to be overly thrilled by a recent report from The Daily Record, which suggests that their club face a battle to keep young defender David Bates at the club this month amid interest from Championship strugglers Sunderland.
The 21-year-old only made the move to Ibrox on a permanent basis back in January of last year after a decent loan spell in the six months before then, yet has only managed four Scottish Premiership appearances for the club so far this season.
However, all four of those have come under Murty and in their last seven games, including a start in their 0-0 draw with Celtic, but with his contract up at the end of the season, the Gers have little to fall back on were interest to mount, both this month and in the summer.
And that is exactly what appears to be happening as reports suggest the Chris Coleman’s Sunderland are interested in the centre-back, and while Bates is reportedly keen on extending his stay at Ibrox, he could well be turned by the Black Cats.
As such, Murty’s men could face a fight keeping hold of the 21-year-old.
Landlord’s verdict: David Bates failed to make any of Rangers’ opening ten Scottish Premiership matchday squads this season, but has appeared more regularly under manager Graeme Murty in recent weeks.
That included a fine performance in their 0-0 draw with Celtic last month, but with the 21-year-old out of contract at the end of the season, and no extension as of yet being agreed, his future is far from certain.
And Sunderland are seeking to exploit that by reportedly expressing an interest in the defender, which could leave the Gers with a fight to keep hold of the talented centre-back, both this month and in the summer.
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