Niko Kranjcar was supposed to be like a new signing when he recovered from the cruciate ligament injury that kept him out for the majority of last season. However, it’s fair to say the veteran Croatian has not exactly rolled back the years since returning to full fitness.
The 33-year-old’s regular inclusion in Rangers’ side this season has left supporters divided as his ageing limbs somewhat undermine the undoubted class and technical ability that made Kranjcar a real favourite in his Premier League heyday at Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur.
And the prospect of fielding Kranjcar against Celtic’s high-octane and energetic midfield trio of Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong and Olivier Ntcham in next week’s Old Firm derby doesn’t bare thinking about for supporters who still wake up in cold sweats 12 months after their 5-1 hammering at Parkhead.
Ally McCoist, a former Rangers striker and manager, was in no doubt as to whether Kranjcar should start against Brendan Rodgers’ champions. He, like many other Gers fanatics, would pick the rambunctious and dynamic Josh Windass in the centre of the park.
“Windass all day long. You need legs in that midfield, for a game like the one against Celtic,” McCoist said in quotes reported by The Sun. “That’s something that Josh Windass gives you.”
The problem, however, is that Windass may no longer be available for Rangers’ first Old Firm clash of the new campaign. According to the Daily Record, the former Accrington Stanley midfielder could be handed a one-match ban after being spotted making an offensive gesture towards Partick Thistle supporters during Friday’s 2-2 draw at Firhill.
And that would be a major blow to Rangers. Windass has started his second season at Ibrox in fine form while his energy, creativity and goalscoring ability in the centre of the park means he should be one of the first names on Pedro Caixinha’s team-sheet.
Instead, Rangers may be forced to pray that there is something left in Kranjcar’s legs.