The international break is a weird one in Scotland.
If not only for the incessant bickering over the structure, style and substance of our national team, also for the fractured relationships between clubs and countries. They’re some of the longest fortnights of the season at times.
For Rangers, with only four players out on full duty (seven if you include the two McCrories and Glenn Middleton with the Scotland U21s), it was a chance to rest players and get fitness levels back up. This is a big month ahead. Never mind month, it’s also a big week.
Rangers had a few niggling injuries in the team and this was a chance to get people fit. And back at home it all went to plan. For those out on the road it was a bit of a different story.
Pull-outs and pulled hamstrings
The biggest story from the break has been Lafferty’s right to play in Sunday’s match being revoked by the Irish Football Association. This was after he pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad to play Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina. They lost both matches.
They have invoked a FIFA ruling which prevents a player representing his country up to five days after the end of an international period after a withdrawal. It is very unusual to see this rule utilised. Was Lafferty being disrespectful? Will we see him against Hamilton on Sunday or not?
The biggest and most pressing concern for Rangers is the fact Scott Arfield is awaiting scan results on his hamstring. The dynamic midfielder was always going to be a shrewd addition. But in the last few weeks he’s taken his role in the team by the scruff of the neck. He also looked fighting fit before this.
He’s added goals and is also the kind of pivot on which we play on. Arfield’s been spinning first touch passes out left, right and centre recently. He’d be a big miss.
However, being left out of Canada’s match on Sunday was only “precautionary” according to the Canada manager Octavio Zambrano.
Not all bad news
The international break has been a great chance to get players fit. The most prominent of which is Ryan Jack. Let’s hope to see the industrious Scotland midfielder back in the fold soon. He adds bite and real quality to the midfield and Rangers have an asset if he can get fit and get a run.
Eros Grezda also completed 90 minutes for Albania, his first full 90 in six months. At this point we’re all excited for a look at the tricky winger and he’s discussed this with Steven Gerrard. I fully expect to see him on Sunday. Let’s hope it’s also his breakthrough performance.
Allan McGregor turned out for Scotland, allbeit in defeat, and Ross and Robby McCrorie and Glenn Middleton turned out for the U21s. Ross also captained the Young Scots.
Its been a very up and down fortnight for Rangers and Scotland during this international break. But regardless of what’s happened in between the last 14 days there’s one thing we’re all looking forward to.
Rangers returning to action this Sunday.