We do wonder how far Rangers are going to go with (not all that young) Johnly Yfeko this season. The 20-year-old left-footed centre-back, who shares a very similar gait (and indeed ex-club in Leicester City) with the long-departed Calvin Bassey, has been impressing fans and indeed manager Michael Beale this preseason with some solid cameos at the back.
Thrilling supporters with a calmness belying his youth, it must be remembered Yfeko isn’t a 16-year-old, he’s a man now at 20, and this is now the point at which a player of his age should be trying to creak into a professional football team’s match day squad.
Has he done enough to earn that spot? Well, he’s impressed more in three cameos than senior counterpart and the only other leftie Ben Davies did all through his debut season, so we don’t honestly see why not.
In the absence of any other half-decent leftie, if a righty and leftie is what Beale wants then, certainly for the Scottish Premiership, we don’t really see a lot wrong with giving Yfeko a chance. He cannot be worse than the ex-Liverpool wimp and he already looks a boatload stronger.
Are Rangers trying to literally recreate Calvin Bassey? Quite possible, but we feel Yfeko is already a much better prospect – Bassey didn’t have a hint of calm, and for being big and strong, he wasn’t composed or articulate. Yfeko is a different type of defender, one mature for his years and maybe ready to surprise us all and break into the first team now.
Is he ready for Champions League qualifiers? That may be a step too high, because unlike Danny Wilson who thrived at 18 in the Champions League, Yfeko doesn’t have Davie Weir next to him. Not that Leon Balogun or John Souttar are massive steps down from the ex-defender and Ibrox assistant, but Weir really was a leader.
But hey, maybe it can work?
What we would say is the Wilson and Bassey lessons show us you’re never too young to thrive as a defender at Rangers, and Yfeko is impressing the right people at the right time.
Could he be a mainstay? Crazier things have happened.