Rangers manager Steven Gerrard hailed the return of Ryan Jack ahead of the Maribor clash on Thursday night.
Jack had been struggling with a knock that forced him out of last week’s first leg at Ibrox. The former Aberdeen midfielder had made a positive start to the season, and the injury news was a big blow.
Fortunately for Gerrard, his charges produced a terrific first-half display to take a lead over to Slovenia. Their 3-1 advantage looks comfortable, but it should be a tough night against a Maribor side looking to put the pressure on.
This is why Jack is such a key cog in Gerrard’s engine room tomorrow night. Gerrard spoke to the media about how much he rates the midfielder, and previously admitted he was “jealous” of his performance against Osijek.
And the midfielder will return tomorrow night, with the manager hailing his man when speaking to Rangers TV.
Ryan was back in full training yesterday, so, assuming he gets through today and tomorrow, he’ll be available for selection. It could be a huge boost. I think he’s in great form and I think he has played a very important role for us so far. I think when you are going away from home and you have a slight advantage, you want to put people in your team that are going to help you get a positive result. Ryan falls into that bracket.
There was slight concern over two of the other main men in the midfield ahead of the trip to Slovenia.
Lassana Couulibaly had to limp off despite producing another eye-catching display against St Mirren. It appeared the Mali international was nursing some form of leg injury.
Scott Arfield wasn’t in the squad at all at the weekend. The former Falkirk man has struggled with niggling knocks early on his Rangers career, with a knee complaint still fresh from last month.
However, Gerrard provided updates on both men ahead of Thursday night.
Lassana has recovered quite well and we don’t think it’s a big issue. We think it’s maybe more down to fatigue. It’s a big game on Thursday and we will have to wait and see what he is like in the next 48 hours. Scott was just rested at the weekend. He had two or three weeks out with his knee and then came back and played two full games. We had to protect him.
Rangers will go through to the playoff round if they avoid a two-goal defeat or more in Maribor.