Skip to main content

James Tavernier battling to be fit for Rangers title party at Celtic Park

Royal Antwerp v Rangers – UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 – First Leg – Bosuilstadion
(Image credit: PA Wire via Belga)

Steven Gerrard admits skipper James Tavernier may not be fit in time to lead out newly crowned champions Rangers at Celtic Park in a fortnight.

The Ibrox side will get the chance to rub their first title win in a decade in the faces of their bitter rivals Celtic when they cross Glasgow on March 21.

It would have been an emotional moment for captain Tavernier, the only remaining player at the club to have served on their journey up through the lower divisions.

But the knee injury the right-back sustained against Royal Antwerp is proving harder than first thought to shake off and Gerrard confessed his skipper is far from certain to walk out at Parkhead a champion a last.

Nathan Patterson deputised as Rangers got the 3-0 win over St Mirren which put them in touching distance of the trophy.

But the 19-year-old is due to face punishment from the Scottish Football Association this week after he and four team-mates breached lockdown rules with an illegal house party last month.

If Tavernier does not recover in time, Gerrard will turn to centre-back Leon Balogun to fill in the slot on the right-hand side of his defence.

Asked how he would rate Tavernier’s chances of facing the fallen Parkhead champions, Gerrard said: “He’s got an outside chance. Obviously depending on what happens from now to that game will depend on whether he’s selected or not.

“But what I will say is that young Nathan Patterson, after a difficult week and a huge mistake that he made, has been absolutely fantastic in terms of his performances.”

Celtic’s failure to win at Dundee United nudged Gers across the finish line but Gerrard was delighted with the way his side coped with the pressure to beat the Buddies.

Picking out his front three of Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Ianis Hagi for special praise after they hit the goals which ensured they could wrap one hand around the Premiership trophy, he said: “The pleasing thing for me was the quality of the goals. There were all really high-level goals in their own way.

“I think Ianis made a comment last week about the different characteristics the front three have got.

“We have obviously got major back-up right now with Jermain Defoe, Scott Wright, Greg Stewart. We never used Cedric Itten on Saturday as we wanted to give Greg some minutes.

“We’ve got Kemar Roofe coming back on Tuesday. James will be a couple of weeks away and is a big attacking weapon.

“We have so many good attacking players coming from different areas of the pitch and it’s a fantastic place to be in.”