Ibrox Noise regulars will be well aware of our changing relationship with Ryan Jack. Underwhelmed totally by him last season, the former Aberdeen captain peaked this season in Croatia then Pittodrie looking every inch the prodigal son we thought we’d signed, and this site couldn’t have been happier.
Dominating quietly in the middle, breaking play up, helping out defence – Ryan Jack was ‘ascending a new level’ and certainly earned his Scotland cap on merit of the whole season thus far.
Unfortunately, since aforementioned Pittodrie zenith, where he sustained a serious concussion, not only has he lost a notable amount of form, but he has become a casualty of war again too, with the knock he picked up at Hampden not only ruling him out of yesterday’s win over Dundee, but appears to be a massive risk for the Villarreal clash on Thursday.
We saw a comment about him on the site – genuine concern that, like Jordan Rossiter, he was becoming a serious injury problem. After losing almost of half of the season last time around (admittedly to a vile assault from Cedric Kipre) and then a month to concussion from Aberdeen onwards, now we lose him again. And we start to wonder just how much Ryan Jack we’re going to see before the end of his contract. Last campaign we got 17 appearances in the SPL of a possible 32. Not dreadful but nowhere near enough. This time around, 10 of 18 total (including pre-season). It’s hardly ideal.
It’s the same worry with Jordan Rossiter – while Jack’s injury blight has started to plague at a (mercifully?) older age, nevertheless we have two bright defensive midfielders with a tonne of apparent ability who we struggle to rely on for appearances. And that’s very disappointing.
Of course we are not blaming Ryan for one second – this guy has shown how good he is when he’s in form and fit, but those conditions rely on each other and neither of them seems that consistent. And Rossiter actually showing up is a simple bonus these days too – he’s regaining fitness but we’re certainly not counting a single chicken on that one either.
No, this is just a slightly creeping problem – Thursday is a massive game and while Andy Halliday did an honourable turn yesterday, Villarreal are a different prospect to Dundee and Rangers need our best players on the day. Our best midfield options are Arfield, Coulibaly and Jack – with honourable mention for Rossiter (albeit not available on Thursday). Two of those struggle for game time, which leaves us needing Halliday and McCrorie, and few would make a strong case that either of them are at the same level as the former four.
No, while we have good depth in midfield, and it’s nice to see, it’s worryingly close to losing that edge the more injuries we suffer in there.
We pray Jack is back and fighting fit come Villarreal.