Rangers must shelve Niko Kranjcar and promote Jamie Barjonas

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha is seen prior to the Betfred League Cup Quarter Final at Firhill Stadium on September 19, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Jamie Barjonas has starred in the under-20s and deserves a chance to prove his worth in Rangers' first-team.

Niko Kranjcar of Rangers in action during a pre-season friendly between Rangers FC and Burnley FC at Ibrox Stadium on July 30, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Niko Kranjcar’s future at Rangers remains uncertain beyond the end of this season. The veteran playmaker is out of contract in the summer and, as things stand, there is no sign of the Ibrox giants expending his stay in Glasgow.

The former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder, who is likely to be one of Rangers’ highest earners, has struggled with a constant stream of injuries since signing a two-year deal at the start of the 2016/17 season.

In total, Kranjcar has made just 12 league appearances for Rangers. And though the 33-year-old boasts a natural ability far above the majority of his Ibrox team-mates, fitness issues mean the Croatian’s influence has been fleeting at best.

Niko Kranjcar of Rangers during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Hamilton Academical at Ibrox Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland.

As such, it appears to make little sense for Rangers to keep Kranjcar around – especially when the highly-rated Jamie Barjonas is waiting in the wings for an opportunity.

The 18-year-old has emerged as arguably the jewel in the crown of Rangers’ academy in recent times but so far has only made four senior league appearances for the club – none of those coming this season.

Now, manager Pedro Caixinha has shown a willingness to give youth a chance but a defensive injury crisis can also be attributed to the Portuguese handing out debuts to Myles Beerman, David Bates and Aiden Wilson last season.

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha is seen prior to the Betfred League Cup Quarter Final at Firhill Stadium on September 19, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

With Kranjcar, not to mention Ryan Jack, Graham Dorrans, Carlos Pena and Jason Holt all vying for a place in midfield, Barjonas faces a far more difficult task forcing his way into Caixinha’s plans – though he clearly deserves a chance to shine.

The possibility of Kranjcar leaving in the summer, however, could allow Barjonas to take one step forward towards first-team football. He has shone in the Under-20s and could step up sooner rather than later.

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