Rangers defender Matt Polster has been added to the Light Blues’ squad for the knockout stages of the Europa League, with deadline day signings Ianis Hagi and Florian Kamberi also brought into the list by manager Steven Gerrard, as reported by The Scottish Sun.
UEFA’s tournament regulations stipulate that clubs can make three changes to their squad from the group stage for the knockout rounds. The January departure of Andy King has freed up one berth, while Filip Helander has also been left out as he is sidelined by a foot injury for at least another month (as per Daily Record). Jon Flanagan is the other player from Rangers’ group stage squad to be removed for the knockout rounds in favour of fellow right-back Polster.
That Polster has been added to the Europa League squad by Gerrard for the knockout stages is a strong show of faith in the 26-year-old by his manager. Only last month, PA Sport reporter Andy Newport tweeted (via @AndyNewportPA) that the American had been expecting to leave on loan in the winter transfer window.
Instead, he has been brought into the team by Gerrard for the recent clashes against Ross County and Aberdeen, helping the ‘Gers to keep a clean sheet in both matches. A number of Light Blues fans praised his performance against the Dingwall outfit, while Ayush Chaurasia of The 4th Official wrote after the latter game that Polster “has definitely cemented the second choice right-back spot after some of his recent displays”, with fit-again club captain James Tavernier the primary option in that role.
Polster also came on at half-time in the defeat to Hearts in late January and it was Flanagan’s place that he took. The ex-Liverpool man, who played alongside Gerrard at Anfield, also started the previous game against St Mirren but his performance against the Buddies was castigated by some Rangers fans, while the manager’s decision to haul him off at the interval at Tynecastle hinted that he was far from pleased with the 27-year-old.
Polster’s recent emergence from the periphery at Ibrox has now been recognised by his inclusion in the Europa League squad for the knockout rounds, with Flanagan’s omission a strong sign that Gerrard does not have much confidence in his former Reds colleague.
The American can rightly take pride in earning his way back into the manager’s thoughts, but the dropping of Flanagan from the European squad does not bode well for the 27-year-old. With Tavernier recovered from his appendix operation and teenager Nathan Patterson getting his chance in the Scottish Cup last month, Flanagan’s career at Rangers now seems to be approaching a pivotal crossroads.
Rangers fans, are you glad to see Polster being called into the Europa League squad? Is Flanagan’s omission a sign that Gerrard doesn’t rate him? Have your say by commenting below!
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