Glasgow Rangers have received a huge boost as Bongani Zungu is set to join up with the rest of Steven Gerrard’s squad for the first time ahead of the Europa League fixture against Lech Poznan on Thursday night.
What’s the word?
Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister confirmed that the South Africa international is available for selection for the first time since he joined the Gers on a season-long loan deal from Ligue 2 side Amiens on deadline day.
“Zungu is still in quarantine but I think he becomes available to train with us just prior to Poznan,” McAllister said, as relayed by The Glasgow Times.
“So that’s very encouraging. It adds to our strength in the middle of the park.”
Gerrard has been unable to select Zungu in recent weeks due to coronavirus restrictions but he has been working hard at home to ensure that he is fully fit and firing on all cylinders.
As the old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but Gerrard may be tempted to tinker with his team once again as Zungu has entered the mix.
The Gers boss quite clearly rates Zungu very highly indeed as he’s recently claimed that he is a “dominant” midfielder who will bring the best out of the rest of his players, so his return to action leaves the Liverpool legend with a big decision to make in the middle of the pitch.
The trouble is, this is going to be one of the toughest choices that the 40-year-old has had to wrestle with since taking charge of the Ibrox outfit. At the moment, Glen Kamara, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield are his preferred midfield trio, as they all started the first Old Firm derby of the season, which means that one of these three will have to be dropped in order to make room for the South African. And that’s without even mentioning Ryan Jack or Joe Aribo, who has recently returned from injury.
Whilst we aren’t for one minute suggesting that Gerrard will throw him in at the deep end, we do think he will make an appearance as a substitute in the second half. Otherwise, what was even the point of signing him in the first place?
South Africa legend Benni McCarthy recently heaped praise on his countryman, saying he had no hesitation in recommending the “fantastic” player to Rangers as he can “do everything”. He told The Sun: “I’ve watched him blossom over the last few years and Rangers have got themselves a fantastic soccerer.
“He is the complete midfielder, very comfortable on the ball and so strong in the tackle. He can play as a defensive midfielder too because he is so good at cleaning up.
“But he also offers you an attacking threat and he can score goals.
“Zungu can do everything in the middle of the park and that is why Steven Gerrard was so desperate to sign him. He is a tough tackler and if you need someone to put their foot in then he is capable of that. If you need someone to go in for a tough 50/50 challenge then he is your guy.”
Last season, the 28-year-old made 21 appearances in Ligue 1, whilst he averaged one clearance and at least one tackle per game, via WhoScored. By comparison, Kamara is only averaging 0.7 tackles per game in the Scottish Premiership this season, as per WhoScored.
Gerrard will be well aware that squad rotation could prove pivotal as the season drags on as he has to balance domestic and European competitions. What better way for Zungu to earn his stripes than by giving him a chance to show what he can do against a side who have lost two out of their last three games in all competitions? However, Gerrard will have to consider his options wisely when deciding how to introduce him into the team.
AND in other news, Joe Aribo marks his Glasgow Rangers return with dominant display against Livingston…
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