When Leon Balogun pulled out of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Dundee United in the warm-up, Rangers were lucky they could turn to a £3m man who’s been in sparkling form this season.
Filip Helander was dropped to the bench for the visit of the Arabs but only because he was trying to keep out legendary Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo for Sweden during the week.
Steven Gerrard obviously had one eye on the upcoming matches in Europe and against Hibs when he rested Helander but when the Swede was called upon, once again he delivered.
Replacing Balogun for the match with the Tannadice club is also symbolic of how the big defender made his return to the Rangers team.
Helander was ruled out way back in December 2019 after picking up a rare foot injury in the Betfred Cup Final defeat to Celtic.
How we missed him in the months afterwards.
As Rangers capitulated in the second half of last season the former Malmo defender’s calm and poise would’ve been a huge asset for a club threatening to implode.
Helander has shown himself to a be calming influence on the backline who is assured and robust in the tackle, has international level positioning, and who has a better turn of pace than most realised.
The big defender has shown himself to be committed chopping back and rarely dives in unless absolutely necessary.
Helander has now played in 23 games for Rangers; 15 of those have resulted in clean sheets with five of those coming during the Gers’ record-breaking start to the season [Transfermarkt].
You also have to remember that it took him a substantial period of time to reach match fitness before he broke into the squad last season.
The Swede is a top defender and it’s now becoming clear why the club splashed out £3m to bring the centre-half to Scotland last season.
After missing so much football in the last campaign, if Helander can stay fit beyond January he’ll be like a new signing in the second half of the season.