Rangers blow as Dujon Sterling ruled out with injury

Rangers blow as Dujon Sterling ruled out with injury
LISBON, PORTUGAL - MARCH 07: Nicolas Otamendi of SL Benfica is challenged by Dujon Sterling of Rangers during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 round of 16 first leg match between SL Benfica and Rangers FC at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on March 07, 2024 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)

Philippe Clement has confirmed a blow for Rangers v Benfica after admitting Dujon Sterling does not make tomorrow’s titanic clash with the Portuguese giants following his stellar display in the first leg.

In a crushing piece of news, one of Rangers’ most key players of recent months is unable to take the field in the last 16 second leg, following an apparent hamstring issue against Hibernian, with there being a massive question mark over his head following that issue first arising against the Portuguese.

We did discuss the risk reward strategy Clement has employed with injuries, and he felt Sterling’s fitness and the reward of playing him against Hibs in the cup was worth the risk of doing so.

Ibrox Noise’s Derek explained Sterling being so advanced caused huge issues for Benfica, them keeping 3 men back to try to contain him which they don’t normally do, and his impact against the Portuguese was huge as a result, a goal in there too.

But Rangers won’t have that surprise element on Thursday, and that is a massive crimp on the gameplan otherwise.

Sterling’s flexibility and ability cover any position on the field (aside goals, though we’re sure he’d give it a go) has been a gargantuan asset for Philippe Clement the past few months, and while some he’s better at than others (we don’t think he thrives too well on LW) he still causes bother for teams who don’t know how to handle him.

That tool won’t be there against Benfica, and Clement is likely to have to use Fabio Silva and AN Other on the other side (Matondo?) against the Portuguese.

Whether it affects the outcome we can’t yet know, but Clement has the staggeringly uncanny ability to get results whether it’s with his 100% first team or a fringe XI of reserves.

So hopefully Rangers can do the job without the ex-Chelsea man.

But it is a blow for sure.

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