Rangers staring down barrel of Celtic cup final injury crisis as one player left in tears over situation

Up to five defenders could be missing for Hampden showpiece

It will soon be quicker to name the players available to Philippe Clement for the Scottish Cup final than those who aren’t. Already facing an uphill battle in his bid to derail a Celtic team building up a formidable head of steam, the Rangers manager will spend the next 24 to 48 hours anxiously waiting for updates on a squad who are limping over the finishing line.

It is in defence where Clement has the greatest personnel concerns, a situation becoming so grave that rookie left-back Robbie Fraser could be handed just a second ever start and asked to try to quell Celtic’s attacking threat. Definitely sitting in the Hampden stand on Saturday afternoon will be Connor Goldson and John Souttar, and they could yet be joined by Borna Barisic, Leon Balogun and Ridvan Yilmaz, all of whom will come under the close scrutiny of the Rangers medical staff who will look to get as many as possible patched up for one more outing.

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“Some players will train for the first time tomorrow (Friday),” revealed the manager. “So there’s no clarity on that for me right now. I’ve never encountered a situation like it and I never want to see it again. You need to prepare everybody then for everything. That’s of course more difficult. It’s easier to have a team that’s playing for weeks or months together to prepare them for the game but that’s not the case and it’s not been the case for six months. I don’t think I’ve had four games in a row when I could play the same 11. That’s the situation. We have to make the best of it.”

Philippe Clement has selection issues ahead of Rangers' Scottish Cup final clash with Celtic.Philippe Clement has selection issues ahead of Rangers' Scottish Cup final clash with Celtic.
Philippe Clement has selection issues ahead of Rangers' Scottish Cup final clash with Celtic.

Clement was coy about the identity of the player who broke down crying on Monday morning although it didn’t take a huge amount of detective work to figure out it was Yilmaz, a player troubled with hamstring injuries. “At the end of the Hearts game [last weekend] you [lose] two goals with a player who comes in but hurts himself again during that moment,” he added. “He came in my office the next day with tears in his eyes to tell me he felt something again so we will see if we can get him fit for this cup final. You just need to look at the goals and it will be revealed.”

Fretting over fitness concerns is threatening to overshadow what ought to be a special moment for Clement on the occasion of his first ever Scottish Cup final. Few will give his side much of a chance against a Celtic team who have dominated them all season and the Rangers manager acknowledged they must find a way to break that winless sequence. “Every cup final is very important,” he added. “It is winning a trophy, winning a prize. And I know the record of the Old Firms so it is an opportunity now to break that cycle that has been going on for too long. It’s an opportunity to take that moment and grab those moments in the game.

“That is what I have missed in the last Old Firm games, we didn’t grab our moments. And, of course, we got two red cards – and they were deserved, there is no discussion about that – and that was an important part of the story. So we need to be better in grabbing the moments and for sure we need to start the game better. It’s a special day because it’s one moment. That’s the nice thing about it – it’s the last game of the season. So it’s all or nothing in that moment.”



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