At a time when others in the Rangers first-team squad are stepping up and impressing in Steven Gerrard’s starting eleven, the recent injuries suffered by Borna Barisic and Nikola Katic are real personal blows.
As reported earlier this week, both have been forced out of international action during the break from club football – Katic withdrawing from the Croatian U21s side and Barisic’s international manager noting he was suffering with a muscle problem.
Barisic was a surprise omission last week at home to Rapid Vienna, although had earlier been dealing with a hamstring issue picked up during the trip to Villarreal.
In his place came Jon Flanagan, who produced a stellar performance in the UEFA Europa League match before following that up with another solid display against league leaders Hearts. The former Liverpool man has certainly given Steven Gerrard something to think about.
If Barisic is out beyond the international break then Flanagan will have more opportunities to cement his place in the starting eleven.
Katic meanwhile has a personal battle of his own in the Rangers squad, having missed out on recent action due to the introduction of Joe Worrall.
The Nottingham Forest loanee has been the preferred option in recent matches, although whether that’s because Katic has had an injury issue is unknown. It would certainly make Gerrard’s decision to drop him to the bench make more sense.
The Croatian youth international had forged a formidable partnership with Connor Goldson during the summer and into the domestic season. If he is now injured with Worrall taking over, it could do his chances of featuring regularly real harm.
Here’s hoping both players are missing out on international action only and are fighting fit for the Gers when the season resumes.