We’ve been receiving this question a lot from the readers on Ibrox Noise recently. The prognosis for new signing Filip Helander.
Signed in a blaze of fanfare for £3M from Serie A cracks Bologna, this Sweden international was portrayed as a certain starter and his CV was certainly of the highest order. With UCL experience with Malmo, and a tonne of Serie A with Bologna and Hellas, this was a signing who appeared slightly above the level Rangers could expect to secure, owing a little possibly to his injury history which wasn’t the best.
And since his two friendly appearances in the shirt (sub v Blackburn and a start v Derby), Helander has, well, vanished. And some fans are asking why.
There are two caveats here:
1: Steven Gerrard, on signing the 26-year old, clearly did state he was a few weeks behind. That was over a full month ago, and despite possibly being a lot closer to being ready, theoretically, evidently the stopper isn’t quite there yet.
2: He’s been reported to have taken on an injury since he arrived, or broke down in training. He certainly wasn’t in attendance earlier this month.
So, bear these in mind before you jump to any conclusions.
There’s also another slight caveat – while the Goldson/Katic partnership isn’t entirely tight yet and could even be called rusty, it’s still managing to repel most ambushes and where 3 goals in the last two games is not ideal, as long as the team is winning, it’s justified. And both current first-picks are individually playing well enough.
And Steven Gerrard today has confirmed Katic’s form is a major reason for Helander’s absence. Doesn’t quite explain why it’s only been Edmundson on the bench though.
But, this gets away from the point – Helander, over a month since he signed, hasn’t kicked a serious ball in anger yet. He’s had just over 90 minutes of football in 30+ days, and while we know his prognosis was to give him time, he wouldn’t be the first occasion we’ve signed an injured player.
We only just moaned about that side of Brandon Barker, who has also had quite a lively injury history, and after the Eros Grezda error we wonder just how much we’ve actually learned from that experience. And with Helander’s continuing absence we do find ourselves curious about the plan for him.
It’s not a massive concern for now. He’s well covered with Katic, Goldson and young George Edmundson seemingly filling in the gaps nicely. But he’s an expensive signing and we want to see a return on that.
We don’t want another Grezda or Lafferty here.