Veteran Rangers Defender Ready To Step In To Deputize Injured Tavernier: What Should Gerrard Do?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Steven Gerrard, Manager of Rangers speaks with the Fourth Official during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Kilmarnock at Ibrox Stadium on February 13, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

An incredible win against Antwerp depicted the progress made by the Gers under Steven Gerrard. The runaway Premiership leaders are going strong in Europe too, but the injury scare of skipper James Tavernier has now led to a crisis leaving the gaffer in real worry ahead of an array of crucial contests across competitions. Rangers would be relieved though by the stop-gap display of veteran Leon Balogun, however, the Glasgow giants are assessing other options including an emergency recruit.

Time To Trigger The Extension Of Balogun’s Contract

The 32-year-old Nigerian was roped in on an initial one-year contract, initially as the fourth-choice centre-half behind Connor Goldson, Filip Helander and Nikola Katic. But he eventually grabbed the first-team status alongside Goldson in the heart of the backline and is now close to extending his stay for at least one more year as a reward for his stupendous impact.

Rangers defender Leon Balogun celebrating Cedric Itten's goal against Motherwell
MOTHERWELL, SCOTLAND – JANUARY 17: Cedric Itten of Rangers celebrates with teammate Leon Balogun after scoring their team’s first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Motherwell and Rangers at Fir Park on January 17, 2021 in Motherwell, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around Scotland remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Balogun earned a lot of praise for his adaptability as a makeshift right fullback against the Belgian opponents. Despite not playing a lot in that position in recent years, he has vowed to serve his side and is determined to fill in the void left by the energetic Tavernier.

“We just need to do what is necessary and if that means I have to play out of position I am ready to go. It is all for the Rangers so therefore I am happy to do it. The way we have played the season so far, you can tell there is not too much ego involved. If you are able to park it at the right moment, you can make it up between you and yourself when you are alone.”

Stated the defender in the post-match press conference (as quoted by the Glasgow Times).

What Should Be Gerrard’s Preference To Succeed Tavernier As The Right Fullback

Gerrard, meanwhile, has discussed other possibilities with Nathan Patterson suspended for disobeying COVID regulations. He could line up Scott Arfield, Glen Kamara or Ryan Jack, but their significance in the middle of the park should not be compromised if a replacement can be found. Free agents like Rafinha and Cuco Martina would be a decent short-fix considering their experience of the highest order, but the best possible alternative would still be Balogun given his maturity and character. That should not stop the manager though from finding someone, particularly if Tavernier’s injury turns out to be a long-term one.

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