By George Overhill

11th May, 2022 | 5:10pm

Rangers man Joe Aribo trails only Liverpool's Luis Diaz in world football for games this season

Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo is second for games played this season behind only Liverpool’s Colombian star Luis Diaz, according to The Athletic.

The Nigerian international has played 64 times this year, after he featured in the African Cup of Nations during the Scottish Premiership’s winter break, and Gers reached the final of both the Europa League and the Scottish Cup.

If he features in the four remaining games of the season that would take the 25-year-old’s total to 69 this season, but maintaining fitness is not seen as a problem among the squad as long as injury can be avoided.

Jordan Campbell writes in The Athletic: “Only Liverpool’s Luis Diaz (65) has played more games than Joe Aribo in world football this season, with Rangers’ Nigeria international midfielder notching 64 appearances for club and country.

“Fitness has not been a weakness. Indeed, it is felt within the group that it is in these hectic periods that they are at their best as the different challenge in Europe sharpens the mind.”

Thick and fast

The fact that Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have played so many games could be a factor in losing the likes of Alfredo Morelos, Aaron Ramsey and Kemar Roofe to injury at crucial periods.

But if the lack of time to stop and think has aided the European run by creating greater focus then some would argue it has been a risk with taking.

Playing in four two-legged European ties, as well as going all the way in the domestic cup, while playing extra-time in both competitions, it is a wonder that the players are still performing at such high levels.

Indeed it was the ability of the Light Blues to keep showing intensity past the end of 90 minutes at Hampden in the semi-final against Celtic that was credited with the win.

Calvin Bassey was notable that day for how he was still sprinting down the left flank on the overlap in extra-time, to cross for the winner as Gers came from behind.

The fervent atmosphere at the national stadium, as well as the ones that the Ibrox crowd have produced on home nights in Europe have to have had an affect.

The noise generated in the defeat of RB Leipzig stunned the watching world, in a game where BBC Sport’s Tom English said the home side “again showed astonishing levels of composure and heart in what was their 60th game of the season”.

Yes, there have been too many occasions when they’ve fallen flat in the league, but the levels they have performed at in the high-stakes knockout ties, at such a frequency is a testament to an impressive squad.

In other Rangers news, cup final opponents Hearts have received multiple boosts ahead of their two meetings with the Bears.