Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has refuted speculation that Ovie Ejaria sat out last night’s encounter with Villarreal because he was late for training earlier this week.
The Scottish Sun reported that Ejaria did not turn up to Wednesday’s training session on time, leaving the Gers boss furious and determined to leave him out of the tie against the Spaniards.
However, while confirming that Ejaria was not punctual, Gerrard refuted the suggestion that was why Ejaria didn’t play.
As quoted by The Daily Record, the manager said of the situation:
Someone made me aware before the game that he was apparently dropped because he was late a couple of days ago. He was late a couple of days ago but he came to me and apologised and now the matter is closed.
I wouldn’t drop a player for being late, players are human beings, sometimes they make mistakes, miss a bus or miss a train.
I’m not going to drop someone for a European fixture or such a big game just because they were late, no chance.
Clearly mountains have been made from molehills here and it’s pleasing to hear there is no ongoing discipline issue with the young midfield prospect.
Ultimately it was probably a good decision not to include Ejaria in last night’s team. It was a ninety minutes for hard graft and midfield discipline, two aspects of Ejaria’s game that still need major work.
Having on the pitch, especially in the wake of Daniel Candeias’ sending off, may have been a critical error and left us even more exposed to Villarreal’s probing possession.
I’m sure he’ll be back in the team before long, perhaps even this weekend when we play Hearts at Tynecastle.