Borna Barisic is now quite possibly going to be delayed in returning to Rangers by around a month. Rangers’ first-choice left back is certainly in Qatar for tomorrow’s semi-final with Lionel Messi’s Argentina, with every possibility the odds-defying Croats will make their second World Cup Final in a row.
A shock stat is that the Croatian team haven’t actually won a single KO match in any of the last three major championships in 90 minutes, relying on penalties almost every time, so there’s no denying the whole squad will be exhausted post-world cup, come what may.
But with Barisic’s stay in Qatar being extended, and possibly going to comically-close to Christmas Day (18th), Rangers fans may be waiting a while to see him back in the shirt as he is likely to get extra time off with a January return more than possible.
It means that Rangers’ left back options are deeply thinned, with Barisic, Turkey’s Ridvan Yilmaz and utility fullback Adam Devine the options there, and being that only one of them is fit or available, it’s Devine’s place to lose now.
The youth graduate has started life well at RB, and filled in well v Leverkusen at the left, but Thursday is the serious stuff and that’s the one he will begin to properly be judged on, as Ibrox fans fill up this midweek and finally get behind Michael Beale’s side in proper competition.
Barisic’s non-disposability means there’s a place there for Devine to win, but it is always an issue when competition for a slot is non-existent, and we would suggest Barisic may remain off-call for quite a while yet.
The irony of course is he’s likely not to play another minute for Croatia, unless there’s an injury to Borna Sosa, but time will tell if Rangers’ main left back gets any more airtime in Qatar, although the chances are now extremely low on that front.
Either way, we’ll be without him a fair while and Devine has the playground all to himself, for as long as former Besiktas man Ridvan isn’t fit anyway, which could also be a while.