Rangers defender Leon Balogun proves fitness ahead of Celtic clash with two Nigeria outings
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Rangers defender Leon Balogun proves fitness ahead of Celtic clash with two Nigeria outings

Rangers defender Leon Balogun proved he is fit for the Old Firm if required after making two appearances for Nigeria in the space of five days.

The 32-year-old initially impressed after arriving on a free in July, earning praise from supporters for his debut display away at Aberdeen.

Leon Balogun impressed on his Rangers debut away at Aberdeen. (Photo by Willie Vass/Pool via Getty Images)

Ever since coming off at half-time in the third game of the Premiership season against St Johnstone, though, he’s struggled with injuries.

Balogun’s first start in almost two months came just prior to the international break in the 2-0 win over Ross County but he’s put any lingering fitness concerns to bed by following up that outing with two appearances for Nigeria.

The ex-Brighton centre-back played the full 90 minutes of a 1-0 defeat to reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Algeria on Friday before playing 57 minutes of a 1-1 draw with Tunisia on Tuesday.

The Super Eagles will be disappointed not to have secured at least one win from the two friendlies, but given that they were without key midfielders Joe Aribo, Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo, the results didn’t come as major surprises.

Rangers star Leon Balogun takes on Lionel Messi in a FIFA World Cup group match for Nigeria in 2018. (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

His team may have conceded to a Mohamed Dräger goal on the stroke of half-time but Balogun impressed in the second game in particular, as he showed aggression in defence and composure in possession.

Filip Helander will still be favourite to partner Connor Goldson in Saturday’s Old Firm but the summer signing is in the mix after overcoming his injury woes and given that both of these fixtures were played in Austria, a long-haul return flight isn’t a factor leading into the weekend.

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