Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has hinted that James Tavernier could be available for this weekend’s Old Firm clash with Celtic at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup – but after losing Leon Balogun to injury, the Gers can’t afford to gamble on the skipper’s fitness.

Gerrard spoke after the win over Hibs yesterday, admitting that he can’t rush, Tavernier for the Ibrox clash but has refused to rule him out with Nathan Patterson the only fit option at right-back just now.

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Tavernier is edging closer to a return (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Tav has been “pushing” to prove his fitness and avoid missing out on another Old Firm game but after Gerrard confirmed Balogun is set to miss a “few weeks”, Rangers need to make sure Tavernier will be fully fit ahead of his return.

The impending appeal of Nathan Patterson’s six-game ban for breaching Covid guidelines means the Gers could be very short on options next Wednesday night against St. Johnstone and it would be much better to have a 100% fit Tavernier for that game rather than gambling on him against the Parkhead side.

A potential Scottish Cup quarter-final the following weekend sees the important games coming thick and fast and taking the risk on Tavernier against Celtic when Patterson is available could cause a setback in the skipper’s recovery.

 

Thankfully, Gerrard seems to be wrapping the Rangers number 2 in cotton wool as he looks to avoid aggravating the injury which last month saw Tav miss his first Old Firm game since joining the club back in 2015.

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Balogun looks to be out for a few weeks(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Missing one more won’t be the end of the world, especially if it puts Rangers in a far better position to be hoisting the Scottish Cup into the Glasgow sky next month.

Read our player ratings after Steven Gerrard’s side restored their 20-point lead at the top of the league table

 

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