Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has received a major boost ahead of his side’s Europa League Round of 32 clash with Royal Antwerp following the return to fitness of Scott Arfield.
Arfield was a key man for the Gers over the first half of the season, making 31 appearances in all competitions, scoring seven goals and notching five assists.
He provides energy and combativeness in the middle of the park, while his link-up play and late runs help to bridge the gap between midfield and the forwards.
Prior to the weekend fixture against Kilmarnock, the Canada international had been out of action since Boxing Day with an ankle injury.
The Gers have continued to pick up results since then but performance levels have dipped somewhat recently without Arfield in the side.
However, with a return to European competition looming, the 32-year-old is finally back available for selection.
Gerrard felt comfortable enough to bring Arfield on for Ryan Kent for the final few minutes of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Killie and the fact that he was able to make his comeback before the trip to Belgium constitutes a major boost for the manager.
Given the length of time he spent on the sidelines, it’s highly unlikely that the midfielder will be able to start against The Great Old in Antwerp on Thursday night.
Yet, a lengthier substitute outing is very much on the cards, with a view to Arfield potentially starting the home leg in ten days time.
The ex-Burnley star has been a go-to man for Gerrard in Europe this season, starting eight of the Light Blues’ nine matches to date and if he can get 90 minutes or so out of Arfield across the two legs, it will boost his side’s chances of progressing to the Last 16.
Antwerp bolstered their ranks in the lead up to the tie with a deadline day loan swoop for a Premier League player, but they suffered a considerable blow at the weekend.