Rangers defender Niko Katic was benched by Hajduk Split for their 1-0 win over NK Lokomotiva after playing his first 90 minutes in 19 months during a Croatian Cup clash.

Gers centre-back Katic is battling back from a cruciate ligament injury which kept him out for the entirety of last season and is out on loan in his homeland looking to rebuild his fitness.

Rangers star Niko Katic remains a popular figure at Ibrox and has been recovering at Hajduk Split after a long-term injury. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Niko Katic plays 90 minutes for Hajduk Split

The 24-year-old defender took a landmark step in his recovery by completing 90 minutes in a 2-1 midweek win over third-tier Primorac Biograd in the Croatian Cup.

This is the first time fan favourite Niko has completed 90 minutes of football since the 2-2 Rangers draw with St Johnstone in February 2020.

However, with the intention of building up the player’s exposure to full matches slowly Katic found himself on the bench as Hajduk returned to league duties over the weekend.

Star striker Marko Livaja found the net with nine minutes to go as Hajduk continued their impressive start to the HNL.1 division this season.

That victory makes it six wins from their opening nine games with the club’s one draw and two defeats leaving them in fourth place, only a point off league leaders Rijeka.

So far Katic has made two appearances for Hajduk Split, coming off the bench in a 3-1 win over NK Istra to mark his debut.

Rangers fans wary of reported option-to-buy contract clause

Rangers fans will be following the player’s progress closely with bluenoses determined to see Niko back in a Gers shirt before long.

Croatian defender Katic is back in his homeland with Hajduk. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

However, fans were perturbed by the news that the player reportedly has a £3m option-to-buy inserted into the loan arrangement [Glasgow Live].

Niko certainly sees his future in Glasgow but because of this, there may well be a chance that the big defender will fall short on an Ibrox promise.

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