Winter break is vital for frozen-out summer signing
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Nikola Katic needs to use the Winter break to get himself back on track

Nikola Katic’s omission from recent Rangers teams has been as headscratching for supporters as it likely has been for himself.

Over the last nine Premiership matches, Katic has only been on the bench in two of them. In six others? Not even in the squad, despite the fact he was one of the heroes in the early part of the season.

He may have featured today, but it was more to rest the likes of Connor Goldson for Saturday.

Indeed, his partnership with Goldson earned plenty of praise at the beginning of the campaign. In what seemed a settled back-line in front of Allan McGregor, Rangers conceded just two goals in their first six games together. Together, Katic was part of a defence that lost nine goals in their first 14 matches together before being dropped for Joe Worrall.

Nikola Katic is having to settle for a place on the bench at the best of times (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard tried to explain why the Croatian youngster had been demoted to reserve clashes and benched outings. The Rangers manager claimed that he always knew he would have to take him out at some point. Interestingly, however, he still never explained why that had to be the case.

Therefore, it’s essential that Katic finds out just why he can’t generally get near the side over the Winter break.

A loan deal an unlikely option for Katic

Heading out on loan in January is one potential option, but Rangers likely wouldn’t allow it. Joe Worrall is far too risky at the back, whilst Gareth McAuley has played just eight times for the club and not yet looked the part. McAuley is hardly a disaster, but hasn’t yet been convincing enough to warrant being a certain starter.

So that means Katic is highly-likely to stay beyond the Winter window. Rightly so too from a Rangers perspective, as they need four centre-backs to have two for each position.

Katic, however, cannot continue his development this season playing reserve team football and wondering when he’ll get another chance.

Katic has featured more in Europe than he has done domestically (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

If Gerrard is keeping him out to protect him, surely it’s time to give him another shot consistently? If that was the case, then he’s been protected enough and has to prove his worth.

Then again, however, if it’s to do with a part of his game that needs tweaking, Katic needs to work on it. The Winter break will ultimately provide him the chance to do that.

Regardless of what happens, Katic can’t come back from the break and settle for the status quo.

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