Rangers have been dealt a blow with the news that captain James Tavernier is set to miss several games through illness.
The Daily Record reported that the 28-year-old is expected to be sidelined for the next three weeks because of a virus, with some rumours claiming that his appendix had burst before it was confirmed that he had instead contracted an infection.
If Tavernier is indeed out for three weeks, he would end up missing Friday night’s Scottish Cup tie against Stranraer and five Premiership fixtures (as per TransferMarkt).
Tavernier has been a mainstay of Steven Gerrard’s squad this season, having thus far played every minute in the Premiership and Europa League group stage and missing only two matches in the entire campaign to date. [via TransferMarkt]
While the impending absence of the squad’s second most-used player is likely to be felt by Rangers, at least Gerrard has a broad choice of options to take the 28-year-old’s place at right-back for the next few games.
Jon Flanagan and Matt Polster are natural right-back selections who are already in the first team squad, while teenager Nathan Patterson is an option from the Light Blues’ academy and midfielder Ryan Jack had played in that position during his time at Aberdeen.
Former Liverpool defender Flanagan has been used at left-back this season in the eight matches that he has played but has principally been a right-back during his career, with 68 appearances in that position. Polster, who reportedly declined a return to his native USA in order to stay at Ibrox (PA, via Sunday Post), has made just four appearances all season, two of which were as a substitute.
Patterson has yet to play competitively for the first team but got 45 minutes in last weekend’s friendly win over Lokomotiv Tashkent in Dubai, while he has featured regularly for the development side in the UEFA Youth League this term and ex-Rangers right-back Alan Hutton told Football Insider this week that he feels the youngster is good enough to rival Tavernier for a first team place next season.
While Tavernier’s absence is a body blow for Rangers, it presents Gerrard with an opportunity to give one of his lesser-used players the chance to prove their worth over a series of games.
Friday’s Scottish Cup tie at home to Stranraer, who are bottom of League One, would seem to provide the ideal setting for Patterson to be given a senior debut following a lively display against Lokomotiv Tashkent in which he nearly set up a goal. Gerrard has already decided that Flanagan and Polster are backup players at best, so now is his chance to trust in 19-year-old Patterson and allow the youngster to test himself at senior level in a competitive environment.
Rangers fans, who do you think should replace Tavernier at right-back over the next few games? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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