Rangers vice-captain Connor Goldson is under fire for comments after the Hibs League Cup defeat at Hampden – but the status of Filip Helander makes dropping the defender near impossible.

Connor, 28, stunned supporters when he claimed that not only had players lost a bit of “hunger” at Ibrox, but that at 3-1 down at halftime he felt the game was over.

Supporters have unloaded on the defender who – alongside much of the team – has been an underperformer this season with the situation not helped by his contract status.

A key player under Steven Gerrard – and a top performer last season – after these comments fans are unsure if it is worth our while to sort out a new deal, with his current expiring at the end of the season.

But as Rangers prepare to head into a crunch Europa League clash against Sparta Prague, the club will have little option but to persevere with Goldson despite his uncertain headspace.

Rangers have not registered the unconvincing Jack Simpson in European competition so heading into the match the club have only two recognised centre-halves.

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Leon Balogun – overused this season and increasingly incompetent in defence as a result – will likely partner Connor Goldson at centre-back despite the fall-out from Sunday.

Much of this concerns the situation with Swedish international and far and away Rangers’ best defender Filip Helander, with the £3m ex-Bologna man recovering from knee surgery.

Rangers missing Filip Helander and need Connor Goldson to step up and play

Sustained in the 2-1 win over St Johnstone in September, the club confirmed it would be at least December before we see Fil in action.

That means that until his return we must persevere with both Balogun and Goldson – and perhaps most importantly – get behind the pair of them.

The sooner Helander is back the better, but things are looking increasingly ominous heading into a difficult run of games at Ibrox up until the winter break.

Hamilton Academical v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Rangers defender Filip Helander is proving a key absence for the Gers at a difficult time. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

That three weeks off in January is looking more and more like an oasis for the Gers this season and Connor, Leon and everyone else is going to need to club together to haul us through the desert.

We need more from these two and with Gio coming in, a clean slate at Ibrox and the opportunity to impress, it’s time to drop the soundbites and stand up to the pressure.

Whilst Goldson and Balogun continue to be overused, the appointment of Gio could offer an opportunity to a defender frozen-out by the previous backroom staff.

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