Rangers have opted not to include Filip Helander in the club’s Europa League squad for the fixtures with Legia Warsaw in the Playoff round.
That would appear to be sensible as the player looks to get up to speed with fitness – but it is in direct contradiction to the player’s comments about wanting to be involved in Poland.
The big defender strolled through Sunday’s 3-0 win at East Fife, even dubiously getting himself on the scoresheet.
👀 Helander's first or own goal? pic.twitter.com/ZXloJT6FOj
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) August 19, 2019
After the match, Swedish international Helander spoke candidly about his ambitions in the coming weeks at Ibrox.
“I’ve been training hard. Obviously, we’ve been on a roll of good results, so I’ve had to wait for my opportunity to come into the team,” said Helander, as quoted by Football Scotland.
“I was delighted to get my chance. I hope to play every game, especially the big matches we have coming up in Europe and at home.
“It’s always the manager’s decision but am I ready for these game? Absolutely.
“The stadium is full for every game and it’s nice to play in. You want to play in the European games, and I have played a lot in Europe before coming here.
“Everyone wants to feature in these games, and hopefully we can get a good result against Warsaw.”
The player clearly had ambitions to play in Thursday’s Europa League game with Legia but Gerrard felt the inclusion of Brandon Barker and Andy King was more important than fielding the defender, or Greg Docherty.
It is unlikely Barker or King will feature from the start of the match and that implies Gerrard simply wants them to be involved in the squad.
What next for Helander?
For that price, you expect Helander to be playing every week. But Steven Gerrard has been reluctant to alter a backline which has served as the foundation of recent results.
That is something which Filip Helander himself understands.
“Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic have been playing well and scoring important goals, so it’s always hard for a manager to change things,” said Helander.
What does that mean for Helander going forward? Well, he simply must be patient.
You imagine Steven Gerrard could provide him with an opportunity against St. Mirren next weekend, and perhaps has no intention of leaving him out of the Europa League squad should Rangers qualify.
But when he’s given his chance it’s up to the big defender to take that chance.