Michael Beale believes Steven Davis still has a future at the club in some form but says the Rangers midfielder will have a decision to make on his playing career after surgery in January.
The club revealed last week that Davis had suffered a season-ending injury and he will have an operation next month. Rangers manager Beale said that he had been “devastated” by the news about the 37-year-old and had planned on Davis making a major contribution in the second half of the season.
The Northern Ireland international will now be on the sidelines for months as he undergoes rehab after surgery but Beale did not rule out a playing return if everything goes to plan.
However, he revealed that discussions had already been underway about a different role and “second career” when the experienced Northern Ireland international does hang up his boots.
“It is a huge blow,” the Rangers manager said. “I have been devastated since it happened. It didn’t look good at the time but we had to let the swelling go down and him to go for a scan and then let Steven process the results.
“I believe he will have it operated on in early January and then we will sit and talk.
“We have a plan for Steven, moving forward he is someone we want to have in and around the club as a player then helping him in his second career if he chose to go down that route. That was already in discussion.
“Only Steven Davis will make the decision on his future. He has got to have the operation and what the surgeon says and then he will decide what he will do next.
“Knowing Steven, I think he will want to continue to play and I think he can still play.
“It is a huge loss for me personally. It is a real disappointment. He was going to be a key player for me between now and the end of the season. I am gutted for Steven more than me.
“We will have a decision to make, that’s fair to say, but it’s Steven’s decision to make. My view on it, seeing him in the two or three weeks I was back, I think he still has at least 18 months left at this level.
“I always said he had 27-year-old legs and I am not backing down on that at the moment – let’s see. The most important person is Steven so until he talks we will all just support him through having an operation and see where it takes us.”
The injury blow may add to the importance of January signings for the new Ibrox boss, with Beale admitting that the current make-up of the squad had already seen him identify midfield as a priority for recruitment.
“We might have been looking anyway to be honest,” he said. “We’re looking to strengthen everywhere if I’m honest, but in midfield there is a little but of uncertainty I think it’s fair to say.
“When you write down our midfield we have a couple of loan players, two or three out of contract at the end of the season.
“Glen Kamara seems to get linked with a new club every day as well. Midfield is an area we will look to strengthen moving forward.”
Rangers have taken maximum points from Beale’s three games in charge so far, and are targeting another victory when Motherwell travel to Ibrox on Wednesday evening.
The manager revealed that Allan McGregor is back in the squad after illness, while Borna Barisic has returned from being in Qatar with Croatia’s World Cup squad.
There’s a further injury boost with Kemar Roofe and Antonio Colak both available, though Beale said it would be his call on whether to include the forwards as he weighs up a busy schedule that includes a meeting with Celtic next Monday.
“Roofe and Colak have trained,” he said. “Now it is up to me whether I select them in the squad or not.
“It is fair to say they are obviously not 100 per cent fit. In Kemar’s case, he has been out a lot longer than Antonio but they have both trained the last two days which is pleasing.
“It is just a case of if I need them now or I can top them up before what is a big January for us.”