Steven Gerrard calls on Rangers players to fill void left by Joe Aribo’s injury
By Andy Newport, PA
Steven Gerrard has challenged the rest of his Rangers flair players to provide a creative spark during Joe Aribo’s injury lay-off.
The Ibrox boss has suffered a major blow after revealing the Nigeria playmaker has been ruled out for up to six weeks.
The midfielder started the season in sparkling form but has not featured since last month’s win over St Johnstone because of an ankle knock.
He was initially expected to sit out just a week of action but having already missed most of the last month, Aribo is set for an even lengthier absence after being assessed by a specialist.
Gerrard, however, is just grateful the 24-year-old does not need surgery.
He said: “Joe’s had a set-back. He’s got a high ankle sprain and will be missing for four to six weeks.
“But we’re really positive over that being four rather than six weeks. But we’ll have to take it week by week.
“It’s a big blow. During the early parts of the season Joe was in magnificent form.
“It’s actually good news because when he had the set-back in training he had to go see a specialist and there was a chance he might have needed surgery.
“Thankfully he doesn’t and we might be able to get him back in four weeks’ time. So it’s actually a positive situation as it could have been a lot worse.
“Joe will be missed as he’s such a fantastic talent. He’s a creator and scorer of goals for us so you will always miss that kind of player.
“But the responsibility and the pressure is on the squad as a whole.
“The responsibility is on all the forward players to create and score and find
answers when opponents set us challenges.
“I don’t think the pressure goes onto just one other individual.”
There is further injury frustration that Allan McGregor needs a scan after jarring his knee in training this week but Borna Barisic should shake off the deadleg he picked up on Croatia duty and face Dundee United at Ibrox on Saturday.
With Aribo still out, the onus will fall on August’s player of the month Ryan Kent to continue his impressive start to the season.
The winger has been key to Gers unbeaten start to the campaign having refused to let a £10million bid from Leeds distract him.
“Without being biased Ryan Kent certainly deserves to be player of the month,” said Gerrard, who was also handed the manager’s prize.
“He’s in sensational form and looking really sharp.
“He’s really happy and settled here. He’s had a full pre-season under his belt and his red card against Lyon aside, he’s been fantastic to watch and work with.
“Ryan is on a very good contract. He has remained professional, his application has been top class every day since we returned.
“He hasn’t let any interest affect him. He’s used it as a compliment that people are enjoying what they’re seeing in terms of his form. He’s looking very dangerous.”
Gerrard reported there has been no developments on transfers in and out of the club.
That includes news on Alfredo Morelos, who has sat out the Light Blues’ last two matches after Gerrard accused him of lacking focus.
But the Colombian has bucked up his ideas over the international break.
Gerrard said: “Alfredo has had only one day off since Hamilton. He’s come in and trained alone with the fitness coach.
“That is good to see. He did that off his own back.
“That tells me he is focused, that he wants to get himself ready for the games coming up. He certainly looks better on the eye and looks sharper, so he’s available for tomorrow.”