Philippe Clement left with Rangers Euro squad headache and explains why only one striker was signed

Belgian laments rule for Europa League as he tries to be as competitive as possible after transfer window

Philippe Clement is irked at only being able to make three changes to his Europa League squad following a transfer window which left him “happy”.

The signing of Colombian winger Oscar Cortes on loan from Lens with an option to buy in the summer on deadline day was the third new recruit, following the arrival of Portuguese attacker Fabio Silva on loan from Wolves and Ivorian midfielder Mohamed Diomande on loan from Danish side Nordsjaelland.

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Defenders Ridvan Yilmaz and Leon Balogun were left out of the Euro squad at the start of the season by then boss Michael Beale but have become key players under Clement. Abdallah Sima, Kemar Roofe, Danilo and Kieran Dowell are long-term injured but could be fit for the latter stages of the Europa League if Rangers progress. Ben Davies is out at the moment while Sam Lammers has joined Utrecht on loan and Jose Cifuentes could also be on his way out, the midfielder linked with a loan move to Brazilian club Cruzeiro.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement will have to rejig his squad for the Europa League - but has limited wriggle room.Rangers manager Philippe Clement will have to rejig his squad for the Europa League - but has limited wriggle room.
Rangers manager Philippe Clement will have to rejig his squad for the Europa League - but has limited wriggle room.

Ahead of the cinch Premiership game against Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday – Rangers are five points behind leaders Celtic with a game in hand – Clement revealed he had spoken to his players about the Euro squad for the last-16 ties in March. The Belgian boss said: “I had discussions with the players about that this afternoon. I am not happy with the rule. But the rule is the rule of course for all the team and I also understand the idea behind it.

“I was not totally aligned with how the European list was at the beginning of the season but it was what it was and I can only make three changes now. So the reality is a few players I wanted on the list cannot be on the list. If you only have three position to change there is not much to think about but if you guys (media) think a bit logically, you will see the logic.”

Some Rangers fans expressed surprise that another striker to give competition to Cyriel Dessers was not brought in but Clement, who took over the Light Blues in October, explained his thinking. He said: “I will never speak about what we wanted. Everyone in the building worked really hard and compared to a lot of other teams we did interesting things with the three guys we brought in. I am happy with the squad that is here now.

“About the striking position, everyone is saying that Cyriel has had a big evolution in the last three months, Fabio has already shown good things, he is still adapting, that is normal. Kemar is still in the building, I expect him to be fit this this season, we will see if Danilo is back or not at the end of the season, we will not risk him for two or three weeks but he will be in the building next season so we have to take those things into account.

“We also have Zak Lovelace also who has been out injured for three months and he has a bright future. So we could have six or seven strikers but you cannot put them all on so you have to take that into account.”