After the learning the fate of Jordan Jones’ injury, Rangers have faced another injury setback as fullback Jon Flanagan has gone through (Daily Record) a second hernia operation which will keep him out of the pitch for a few weeks. The exact return date is not yet known, but the defender missed close to three weeks of action when he went through the same operation at the beginning of the current season.
Steven Gerrard specifically called Flanagan out for praise in the Old Firm derby as he said that he was the only one who earned the pass marks. The fullback has enjoyed a decent start to the season as he played a significant role in the Europa League qualifiers playing as a left-back.
Gerrard has three options at left-back, and after Flanagan ended the last season strongly, he continued as the first choice in that position. Barisic meanwhile has managed to win some trust back as he scored a crucial winner against St. Mirren and then he started in the all-important clash against Legia Warsaw in the second leg at Ibrox which Rangers won by 1-0.
Barisic might have even got the nod to start in the Old Firm derby, but he suffered a concussion in the second leg clash earlier. The left-back spot is pretty much still up for grabs, and it seems like its a two way battle between Flanagan and Barisic with Andy Halliday being out of contention at the moment.
What works for Flanagan?
The former Liverpool defender is predominantly a right-back who is filling in at left-back. However, he is defensively astute and strong and committed in his challenges. He reads the dangers well and is a classic no-nonsense defender who does the basics right more often than not. With Flanagan in at left-back, it gives someone like James Tavernier more freedom to bomb forward as Flanagan tucks in to make it three at the back when Rangers are in possession.
What doesn’t work for him?
Flanagan is not a natural when carrying the ball from the back, and he hardly contributes anything on the offensive front. Modern-day football has evolved quite a bit, and fullbacks are seen as an attacking option. But Flanagan just doesn’t seem to have the arsenal to thrive on that front.
Nevertheless, as mentioned, he does the basics right and is a committed defender, and that is why he has been preferred more often than not in the last six months. However, with his injury, Barisic will have a chance to win his place if he puts in some consistent performance at the back.