The future of Rangers loanee James Sands appears to hang in the balance as the defender continues to be left out of the team by Michael Beale.

The USA international has had a torrid season so far at Ibrox with the 22-year-old having to deputise in an unfamiliar central defensive role due to a string of Ibrox injuries.

SSC Napoli v Rangers FC: Group A - UEFA Champions League
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A somewhat unnatural position for defensive midfielder James Sands, this has shown at times this season with the player’s confidence shot to pieces and the NYCFC loanee’s Rangers future up in the air.

After starting the first two games of Michael Beale’s Rangers’ tenure due to defensive issues, game-time has been limited over the course of the last few months.

James Sands out of the picture at Rangers

Whilst there have been short substitute appearances against Motherwell, Celtic and Kilmarnock, James Sands has been either on the bench or not in the squad for the other seven matches under the Englishman.

James Sands has been an unused substitute in the last four matches for Rangers and the USA loanee’s lack of appearances is in stark contrast to those of fellow loanee Malik Tillman, who has been excelling under Michael Beale as of late.

Speaking before the close of the January window, new Rangers manager Michael Beale has also hinted that the club have a decision to make over James Sands.

The midfield utility man was signed on an 18-month loan deal from then MLS champions New York City FC under former manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

“We have a couple of loan players in and have to decide whether we want to retain them long term,” said Beale ahead of the January transfer deadline [Rangers].

“If we didn’t, maybe there will be an opportunity for them to go back as well.”

Can Rangers justify £4.5m investment?

This would suggest there are at the very least doubts over James Sands’ longevity at Rangers, and coupled with claims from Chris Jack that he’d be “surprised” if the club retained the American’s services, perhaps the writing is already on the wall.

After years of careful investment, Rangers would also have a hard time convincing fans that they could justifiably spend the reported £4.5m it’ll take to sign the player permanently from the US too.

Add into the mix that Nicolas Raskin and Todd Cantwell have joined this January, as well as that competition from Ryan Jack, John Lundstram and Glen Kamara, and suddenly chances look limited at Rangers for James Sands.

It’s been unlucky for the player in that Sands hasn’t always got the chance in his favoured position, but over 18 months has the defensive midfielder honestly did enough to convince the club of a permanent deal?

Meanwhile, excitement continues to build around Todd Cantwell.

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