By Joe Ellis

1st Jan, 2022 | 8:10pm

View: The Scottish winter break has come at the worst time for Rangers

Boxing Day saw the last Scottish Premiership games until mid-January with Rangers sitting pretty at the top of the league.

But the hiatus, which was brought forward due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Scotland, couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Gers.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side were due to face Celtic in the old firm derby on New Years Day but the game has been forced into a new date (2 February) thanks to the earlier break.

The Gers have won nine straight games in the Scottish Premiership and despite a couple of 1-0 wins via penalties, they have largely been comfortable in each of these matches.

With form as good as that, and a squad bigger and better than anyone else in the country – with the arguable exception of Celtic – van Bronckhorst would have loved to keep on going to try and put the title out of reach of their Glasgow rivals.

Celtic themselves have been in good form but 0-0 draws against St. Mirren and Livingston in the past two months has seen Rangers’ lead at the summit extend to six points.

Victory at Celtic Park in February would see Rangers put one hand on the trophy but they could be without their energetic star midfielder for the game.

Joe Aribo has been called up to the Nigeria squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, between 3 January and 6 February, which will see him miss a handful of Gers games.

Nigeria are expected to go far in the competition which would see Aribo absent until after the Celtic game but if the Super Eagles are dumped out early, Aribo could be back for the big game under the lights.

In other Rangers news, a decision has been made over the future of this defender.