Steven Gerrard has spoken to RangersTV about Nikola Katic and Scott Arfield.
The fan favourites are currently absent from the Gers’ Algarve training camp due to international duties with Croatia U21s and Canada respectively.
However, a draw with England on Monday evening marked the end of Katic’s UEFA U21 European Championships campaign. Croatia finished bottom of Group C behind Romania, France, and the English.
The 6ft 4″ colossus played three full games in less than a week. He also picked up broken nose during a warm-up match.
However, it appears he won’t be getting any extra rest following the tournament. The same goes for Arfield, who is currently competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup for Canada.
He is likely to be tied to his national team for at least another week. However, it appears Katic could be back with his club teammates within a few days.
“The reason they weren’t available for Kilmarnock was to try and benefit from that decision now,” Gerrard told RangersTV. “I think it affected us against Kilmarnock as I didn’t really want to change the team too much as we were on a great run with five wins out of five.”
“But, because there wasn’t really much to play for, I had to think about now, and I had to think about getting them ready for the qualifiers which are about to hit us.
“So Katic will come straight back in – he had his three-week holiday before his tournament and the same with Scott – but, they will have slightly different programmes to the others and it will be a lot easier for them to pick up the speed and integrate because their programme was different at the back-end of last season.”
Arfield could still be away for some time, with a Gold Cup quarter, followed by a potential semi and final still left to play.
It sounds like Katic could be heading straight to Portugal from the Croatian camp, though.
The U21 Championships are being held in Italy and San Marino. Therefore, he could be at the Rangers base within a day or two.
It’s good news for Bears that Gerrard is looking to involve both players as soon as possible. The Europa League qualifiers aren’t far away now and they are key cogs in the Rangers side.