Rangers’ players returned to pre-season training yesterday, after the much-hyped fortnight-only summer break the players were furnished with by disciplinarian boss Pedro Caixinha, and the big news was less about the new arrivals Caixinha is attempting to sign up, and more about the players who were and were not back at Auchenhowie for campaign 2017/2018.
With so much confusion about who is and is not leaving, the squad at Murray Park yesterday shed a fair chunk of light on who is most definitely not part of Caixinha’s plans going forward, and who may still be.
With common-knowledge that a great number of existing players are surplus, there has been much debate over which ones those are, and going by training yesterday, the presences of Andy Halliday, Martyn Waghorn, Michael O’Halloran, and Harry Forrester bode significantly well for their hopes of remaining at Ibrox.
Sure, it is only pre-season and much can change, but at least two of those were said to be as good as on the transfer list, so their return to Murray Park was intriguing. Equally, Josh Windass, mooted for a departure by some, was heavily involved yesterday and if his presence in the majority of Pedro-managed matches at the tail end of the season is anything to go by, the former Stanley man may well be, surprisingly, a retained cog in the Caixinha machine.
Similarly, there has been doubt over James Tavernier, but he was very much present for the first day back, giving a touch of credence to the view that he will be a part of next season, as has started to emerge over the past couple of weeks.
However, it was the big absences which raised eyebrows. Completely absent was Barrie McKay, Rangers’ supposed prize asset but who struggled on his maiden SPL season. He has been a weak performer over the piece, of whom much more was expected, and it does lend weight to the notion Rangers are looking to get a healthy fee for him. If there was some significant reason for his absence that we are unaware of, correct us in the comments, folks.
Swiss Philippe Senderos and Clint Hill were naturally missing, and despite the bizarre lack of it ever being officially confirmed, both are most definitely gone from Ibrox. This also seems to apply to Rob Kiernan, another one who had been absent for about a month of training before the break, and again was conspicuous by his absence again after it.
He is still under contract as far as we know, but unless it has been torn up in quiet, it is likely the club and his agent are working hard on getting him a new gig elsewhere.
Lee Hodson was away on international duty with Northern Ireland, but it does seem his Ibrox adventure could be coming to an end anyway, regardless of the high regard many fans hold him in, and it seems Caixinha is in no way interested in either him or Matt Crooks, the fit-again DM who wants a switch to Scunthorpe. He too was completely missing from the session.
Beyond all these, the regulars were back – Joe Garner, some believing he was a target for PNE was accounted for, as were Joe Dodoo and Jason Holt, not to mention young David Bates and old stalwart Kenny Miller.
And last but not least the thoroughly welcome sight of Jordan Rossiter and Niko Kranjcar in full training again and fully integrated back with the squad. Not to mention the returning Lee Wallace, over which a little doubt clouds regarding the captaincy.
Some fans wish Alves to be given it, or even Ryan Jack – Wallace deserved his shot at the captaincy but in truth never really convinced enough fans he was the right solution long term.
Either way, the coming week will be enlightening about the shape our Rangers squad is taking, and with only barely three weeks till the Europa League starts, time is short!