Michael Beale claims Rangers defender is 'not done' as contract decision looms for Ibrox manager

Michael Beale believes forgotten man Filip Helander can still be an asset to Rangers but has stressed the defender’s first task will be proving his fitness to himself.

The Swede could well have a mental barrier to overcome after enduring such a horrendous time with injuries. Helander's latest long spell spent on the sidelines has been due to complications with a foot problem that ended up requiring surgery. Beale revealed the player's spirits have been lifted recently after becoming the father of twins.

However, as the manager pointed out, Helander is not in Scotland for family reasons. He is here to play football. "I feel for Fil," he said. "He was signed to be a big player for this football club."

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Helander only made five starts under Gio van Bronckhorst, Beale’s predecessor. The current manager has inherited a situation where a valuable first-team member has been unavailable for so long that he’s almost been written off by the Ibrox support when it comes to the prospect of seeing him again.

Filip Helander joined Rangers in 2019 and was introduced to the crowd at half-time in a friendly v Marseille

Helander told a Swedish newspaper late last year that he hoped to be back in the frame for a recall in the Spring. Beale, too, is holding out for this. The Rangers manager is reaching the point where he will have to make a decision about the defender, who, as well being out of contract in the summer, turns 30 in April.

“If the Fil Helander I know can get himself back then he’s a big asset to Rangers,” he said. “He’s had two horrible years of injuries. I’ve not been in the building when he’s had them but, at 29, I don’t think Fil Helander is done. I think he has probably got to prove a couple of things to himself more than anything else.”

By that, Beale said he meant returning and then staying fit for a significant period. “Hopefully that will happen towards the real back end of the season,” he added. “In terms of his contract, at this moment in time there have been no discussions purely because of the length of time he’s been out.”

Beale sees the player every day at the Rangers Training Centre and can sense his anguish at missing out on so much at a critical stage of his career. The defender ought to be in his pomp. But he has recently missed out on a Europa League final as well as a Scottish Cup win.

Rangers centre-half Filip Helander is helped off during a 4-0 win over St Mirren in April. He has not been seen in a Rangers shirt since. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

He was excluded from the European squad Rangers submitted before their first knockout tie against Borussia Dortmund on their run to Seville under Van Bronckhorst. Helander has since been joined by the likes of Ianis Hagi, John Souttar, Tom Lawrence and Kemar Roof as long-term injury casualties.

Beale claims he might not have had the chance to return to Ibrox as manager were it otherwise, with Van Bronckhorst's plans for the current campaign having been significantly impacted.

“I’m probably in a job because of those scenarios where a player has got injured and the manager hasn’t been able to select him,” he said.

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“You get dealt the results that come your way. At a club like this you need players like that fit and probably towards the end of the season we’ll be asking how many starts we’ve had from that group of players."



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