Rangers have been dealt a blow with news that Filip Helander and Scott Arfield will miss Sunday’s Old Firm game and are likely to be out for the rest of the season.
Swedish defender Helander was injured during the Scottish Cup defeat to St Johnstone last weekend and Steven Gerrard won’t be able to call on him as he looks to extend Rangers’ unbeaten league season. However, the Rangers manager does believe the stopper will be fit to play in the European Championships this summer.
In the short term, the injury hands an opportunity to Jack Simpson, who is likely to play against Celtic and make only his second start since moving from Bournemouth in February.
Gerrard said: “We won’t have Fil Helander, probably for the remainder of the season. The same goes for Scott Arfield, so we’re a little bit light at centre-back and in midfield.
“Scott’s injury is in the ankle area and Fil’s is in the knee area. In terms of what the doctor’s diagnosis on them is I’m still waiting for certain information and scan results.”
Rangers go into Sunday’s clash at Ibrox knowing they are just three games away from an ‘invincible’ league season, having already wrapped up the league title almost two months ago.
However, last week’s Scottish Cup exit to St Johnstone still displeases Gerrard, in addition to the League Cup defeat to St Mirren earlier in the season.
“The cup situation isn’t sitting too well with me right now,” he said. “It’s a bit raw from St Johnstone.
“It’s something that motivates me and I want to challenge everyone else to put that right moving forward.
“I think as a club we’re always looking to improve. When the window’s open recruitment never stops and we’re always looking for targets to try and help the group, and make us stronger and better equipped.”
The Rangers boss was clear his side had achieved their top priority in a successful season though, and had impressed on the European stage as well.
“If I was sitting here as a League Cup champion and looking forward to a Scottish Cup semi-final but we were miles behind in the league then this season would be a massive failure,” he said.
“The remit, the main focus this season was the league. That doesn’t mean we didn’t want to win everything because we did and we went for everything that we could, including from a European point of view where there was a really respectable performance from the boys again.
“We fell short in the cups domestically and that’s on all of us. We’ll have to put that right moving forward and we’ll try and strengthen the group at the right time to give us a better shot at it next year.”