By George Overhill

20th Nov, 2023 | 6:40pm

Philippe Clement fitness concerns grow at Rangers as Ross McCausland picks up new knock in Northern Ireland debut

Philippe Clement’s concerns about the fitness issues at Rangers may be set to grow after yet another new injury concern after Ross McCausland picked up a “knock” on his senior Northern Ireland debut, the nation’s football association confirmed.

The IFA put an update on their website on 20 November ahead of the European qualifier with Denmark to say that the Ibrox winger is “touch and go” to make the squad for the game thanks to an issue from the 4-0 defeat to Finland on his full debut (17 November).

Clement has previously branded the extensive injury list at Ibrox as the “biggest puzzle” he had encountered after being appointed to replace Michael Beale, and has reportedly since worked out the issue but has kept it in-house [Daily Record, 31 October].

However, whether by sheer bad luck or a holdover from whatever was creating repeated problems for numerous members of the Light Blues playing staff, his most exciting young prospect has now picked up a new one.

The 20-year-old’s emergence as a regular in Clement’s squad has seen him make his first Rangers start and receive his first Northern Irish senior cap with the space of a week, but news of another injury worry might put a dampener on the swift progress.

With contract talks ongoing at Ibrox over his future he is also reportedly attracting attention from Premier League clubs, and sides in Europe.

Rangers supporters will be hoping McCausland’s knock is nothing serious because he has already become one of the more dynamic attacking options in Clement’s squad.

With wide men at a premium for the Belgian since Beale’s summer overhaul saw Ryan Kent, Fashion Sakala and Ianis Hagi all depart in various ways the youngster’s form is all the more important.

Abdallah Sima has established himself as a near-certain starter but alternatives at winger are scarce as Rabbi Matondo can’t seem to stay fit and Scott Wright also recently ruled out with injury, also just as he had broken out under the new manager and capped his improved form with a goal against Hearts at Hampden Park.

Clement has commented extensively on the fitness situation he inherited at Ibrox after months of near-constant injury problems within the squad and is sure to be unhappy that they apparently keep coming.

If McCausland has been hurt on international duty it would only add to a selection headache in the wide areas, and hint at Clement’s attempts to rectify the fitness problems being a work in progress still.

A first call up and cap for his country is sure to have been a boost to McCausland’s confidence, but a heavy defeat and an injury complaint won’t have been how he envisaged it going.

Either way Rangers need to keep working on a new deal as it appears attention is only increasing around him and takers are already emerging if he is allowed to leave.

But of more immediate concern to the manager will be the seemingly unending supply of fitness concerns that he is having to navigate, after similar woes contributed to the downfall of both Michael Beale and Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

In other Rangers news, a pundit has made a “certainty” prediction over a hotly-tipped Ibrox transfer in January, and been accused of having a chip on his shoulder as a result.