Glasgow Rangers have received a major injury boost after Scott Arfield returned to first-team action ahead of their Europa League tie with Antwerp on Thursday.
Arfield made his long-awaited injury return against Kilmarnock on Saturday, playing his first game for Steven Gerrard’s side since Boxing Day.
And while the stats were too inconclusive to suggest that he had any real impact – he only played a couple of minutes after all – there’s no doubting the fact that Arfield’s brief cameo will give the club a boost as they enter the business end of the season.
Rangers remain far ahead of their arch-rivals Celtic in the Scottish Premiership title race and are also still in the Scottish Cup and UEFA Europa League.
Arfield had been enjoying a solid, if unspectacular season before injury struck. The workmanlike midfielder has scored seven goals and provided five assists across all competitions for the Gers, with three of his goals coming in the Europa League.
The sprained ankle he sustained during the 1-0 win over Hibernian saw Gerrard strengthen his midfield in the January transfer window, bringing in Scott Wright from Aberdeen and Nnamdi Ofoborh from Bournemouth, with the latter immediately sent out on loan to English Championship club Wycombe Wanderers.
However, his return to fitness will be welcome news for Gerrard and the 54-time Scottish champions as they prepare for the trip to Antwerp.
No other Rangers player has scored more goals in the Europa League than Arfield this season, as he has contributed to 15% of the team’s goals (13), whilst he scored the winning goal against Standard Liege to ensure his side qualified for the knockout stages with a game to spare.
Therefore, with the Gers juggling both domestic and European duties, the return of Arfield, who earns a reported £16,000-per-week at Ibrox, has come at exactly the right time, as he is a well-respected player in the dressing room and has become an integral part of Gerrard’s side.
The Gers boss should be buzzing with the return of one of his first-team stars, and is on course to make a real impact in the business end of the campaign, starting with the round of 32 Europa League clash against Antwerp on Thursday night.
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