Rangers may well have to deal with a double-edged Calvin Bassey sword as the versatile Nigeria defender shines at centre-back ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Although uncapped for the Super Eagles, ex-Leicester kid Calvin Bassey, 21, has joined midfielder Joe Aribo and defender Leon Balogun in the Nigeria squad before.
Bassey’s traditional left-back berth is a competitive one in the squad but given the youngster’s emergence at centre-half that versatility may be an attractive option for Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr.
Calvin is clearly on the Nigeria manager’s radar and given previous call-ups – and his impressive form under Giovanni van Bronckhorst – Rangers have to assume Bassey is, at the very least, on an AFCON shortlist.
But should Calvin make the cut then it heaps yet more pressure on Rangers defensively as the club’s stretched backline struggles to get a break.
Whilst the majority of the tournament takes place in the Scottish winter break – and Gernot Rohr has confirmed Rangers are requesting their Nigerian stars don’t leave until after the Old Firm on January 2nd – the tournament runs all the way until the 6th of February.
If Nigeria go deep in the tournament, as expected, Rangers face losing these three first team players for, realistically, five matches, including league clashes with Hibs and Hearts at Ibrox.
Defensively Rangers have been suspect all season long but have not been helped by injuries to the likes of Filip Helander and now Leon Balogun.
Connor Goldson’s contract situation remains a source of great speculation and conjecture, whilst Jack Simpson has not managed to break into the first team like we would’ve hoped.
That means if both Bassey and Balogun head off to Cameroon with Nigeria then Rangers’ defensive frailties will once again come to the fore.
Rangers defence could be stretched if Calvin Bassey called up to Africa Cup of Nations
Swedish international Filip Helander is back on the training pitch but after knee surgery there is a curve the defender must take to get back to full fitness.
Talk of Connor Goldson being shipped out to cash in before his contract runs down must also be shelved for the betterment of the Ibrox club’s title charge as options become stretched.
Before the AFCON, Rangers needed at least one defensive reinforcement and the club runs the risk of cutting off its nose to spite its face if an influential player like Goldson leaves in January.
But whatever the case, if Calvin Bassey does earn a Nigeria call-up due to his fine form then Rangers will be under pressure to bolster a backline which is only now finding some consistency.
Rangers continue to be extensively linked to one defender in particular but the latest suggests they will face competition from a former European Cup winner.