Rangers trio available to face Celtic before AFCON call-ups

Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey are all likely to be in Nigeria's squad.

Rangers trio available to face Celtic before AFCON call-ups SNS Group

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has confirmed that Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey will be available for selection for the Old Firm derby against Celtic.

The trio are all likely to be called up by Nigeria for the Africa Cup of Nations and with the continental tournament kicking off on January 9, there had been concerns that they would have to join their international team-mates and miss the Premiership clash seven days earlier.

Nigeria’s first game is against Egypt on January 11 and Van Bronckhorst says he has already received assurances he can call on those players for the league showdown at Celtic Park.

“They will be here with me and the team, 100%,” he said. “For me it was already clear that we would release them after the Old Firm game so we will have the full squad until we go into the winter break.”

The Rangers boss is now one month into the job after being appointed as Steven Gerrard’s replacement. He goes into the league match against Dundee United having already presided over seven games, with the 1-1 draw in Lyon the only one he hasn’t won.

“It’s one month working with the players and I think it’s important to know your players really well, ” he said. “In the four weeks I’ve been here I have a much better feeling of the squad, the players, the characters and their qualities.

“For me that’s been really positive and of course the results also help.

“To come into a new job, especially during the season, is not really easy but I think we focused really well on the most important aspects I wanted to change and the players received the message really well.

“At the moment I’m really happy with the performances, the state of the squad and of course the points we have won.”

Van Bronckhorst has also gotten to know his opposite number at Celtic, with the Rangers manager and his sporting director Ross Wilson photographed in a restaurant with Ange Postecoglou this week.

““We all live in the same area and I’ve met him a couple of times at the coffee shop,” the Dutchman said. “So I was just having breakfast with Ross and he came with his wife and we already met, so we didn’t meet for lunch or breakfast or dinner.

“It was a coincidence.

“We spoke a little bit about the games we’d played then I left him alone with his wife.

“The picture looked like we were having a five course meal and having fun but it was only one or two minutes. It’s always nice because we are both managers of our clubs but we enjoy being around the city.

“It’s always good to say hello to a colleague.”

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