There is a defensive conundrum for Rangers manager Philippe Clement to solve ahead of the Ibrox side’s penultimate Europa League game against Aris Limassol at Ibrox that could seal European football after Christmas with a game to spare.
Connor Goldson’s suspension coupled with the fact that Leon Balogun is not in the Europa League squad list means that it will be a makeshift pairing that faces the Cypriots. Left-back Ridvan Yilmaz is also not on the Europa League squad list.
Goldson’s suspension was particularly irritating for Clement who blasted the UEFA rules as “stupid” after the defender was booked against Sparta Prague for an incident that took place on an offside player. The flag did not go up until the full passage of play concluded with Goldson then picking up the card while rules him out of Aris Limassol tie.
John Souttar could return to the starting line-up for what would be his first game in a month while there is the other option of potentially playing Ben Davies or Dujon Sterling.
“They’re players who’ve done good things in the last few weeks,” said Clement. “We know that if we win tomorrow, we’ll take a really big step because we can play in Europe after January and that’s an important thing for the club and the players also.
“Everybody likes to play in Europe with all the attention and the whole of Europe watching these games. It’s a good thing too for players’ careers.
“And it’s important for the club to have good European results because that bring status to your club.”
Clement has watched the club’s defeat to the Cypriots, a game that came under as Steven Davis was in temporary charge following the exit of Michael Beale. There has been a considerable upturn in performances since then and while European football could distract from Rangers as they chase down Celtic in the Premiership, the Belgian is determined that all silverware is of equal importance to him.
“I want ambitious people here in the building,” he said. “I want to create winners. That means people who want to win everything they do, not just one competition or two. So, I don’t prioritise one competition over another.
“There are no guarantees. You can beat Barcelona one day and three days later, if you don’t have the right mentality, you can lose to Ross County. That’s also football. So [playing in Europe beyond Christmas] doesn’t give any guarantees but of course they’re good experiences.
“You need to try to get that rhythm that you play in Europe with into your domestic games and that’s how you become better as a team.”