Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has challenged Jon Flanagan to earn a new Ibrox contract, as quoted by the Daily Record.
The 26-year-old scouser has suffered a quite dramatic reversal of fortunes since the end of last season.
From the period around the 2018/19 split, he was a near-permanent fixture at left-back, looking a vastly improved player to the one who had joined the club the previous summer.
Yet, rather than kicking on this season, he’s still hasn’t really got going.
Injury ruined his pre-season, with a hernia operation delaying his first competitive involvement until the third round of Europa League qualifying against Midtjylland.
He then made a total of six appearances, including in the Old Firm at the start of September, but required a second hernia operation the following week. That was almost three months ago and he hasn’t been seen since for the first team – a start for the Colts in their Challenge Cup quarter-final a fortnight ago, being his only action.
In his absence, Borna Barisic has been outstanding. A more natural left-back, he’s earned major praise from the fans for his all-action displays and has started every game since the home win over Feyenoord in mid-September.
With Flanagan’s initial two-year deal up in the summer, his long-term future is now in doubt.
“Jon’s got to fight for a new contract – he’s had a couple of injuries that set him back at the start of the season,” said Gerrard, as quoted by the Daily Record. “Jon is clear on what his situation is because I’ve had a conversation with him, man to man.”
“I love him as a guy and an ex-team-mate. But I have to park that friendship up for obvious reasons. Jon knows exactly what he’s got to do between now and the end of the season to earn a new contract.
“There could be a chance for him in December with all the games we have, possibly. People are carrying knocks and the games are coming thick and fast. So everyone has got to be on their toes.”
Flanagan did well towards the back end of last season and there’s little doubt about his defensive capabilities.
Yet, Rangers’ style of play currently dictates that the full-backs also contribute significantly in attack and that’s an area where he’s likely to have to show significant improvements if he’s to remain at Ibrox beyond the summer.