The injury list continued to add some new victims following Rangers draw with Alloa Athletic.
It began with word that Lee Wallace had picked up a calf injury prior to the Raith Rovers match. He managed to play through the pain last week but Ally McCoist understandably had Wallace sit out this weekend’s match with a League Cup fixture looming on Tuesday.
However, another Rangers star maybe should have been sidelined as well. On the RangersTV broadcast, it was reported that Lewis MacLeod had picked up a knock on his ankle in the build up to the match with Alloa. Knowing that MacLeod was not at 100%, he still trotted out against the Wasps.
It is quite normal for players to play with injuries however in hindsight it was a questionable decision to allow MacLeod to play with a bum ankle on Alloa’s artificial surface. The ‘plastic pitch’ was not kind to MacLeod, who showed that he was in pain early on. After a few minutes of obvious discomfort he was subbed off in the 13th minute. Now his status for Tuesday is in doubt.
Another first half injury that was not dealt with right away was Nicky Clark’s shoulder injury. When Clark picked up the injury it was obvious to anyone watching that he was in a great deal of pain. However, play was never stopped & Rangers lined up a corner kick within seconds. Ironically, Clark was called upon to make a play on the ball – even as he was feeling the immediate effects of a dislocated shoulder.
Of course, if a player does not go down to the ground – he isn’t going to get medical attention. You can’t fault Rangers for not sending a training staff out in that moment, as Clark’s teammates were not aware of the injury.
However, the match went on for a good five minutes with Clark in obvious pain. Maybe Rangers were just hoping Clark could make it to the half but when a collision with Alloa’s Ben Gordon flattened Clark in an awkward heap – it was difficult not to question why he was still on the pitch.
It is a byproduct of Rangers ‘win at all costs’ mentality. Rangers cannot afford a hiccup – the backlash is severe & the pressure is immense to win each & every match.
It explains why the depths of the squad are very rarely utilized – even when the club faces two matches in four days.
But the question that begs to be asked is why have a player like Dean Shiels on your roster if you’re not going to use him?
If MacLeod’s ankle was not 100% healthy – why send him out on an artificial surface, especially when you have players like Shiels, Arnold Peralta, or David Templeton waiting in the wings?
A similar issue arose last season when Jon Daly was trotted out – week after week – even when it appeared that his body may be breaking down. Daly eventually had to have knee surgery to repair the damage done as he soldiered through the pain.
At the time of the surgery, McCoist explained – “Towards the end of the season, we would have given him a little rest if we could have but personnel indicated we couldn’t.”
“With Andy Little injured, he was our only striker at points and, to be fair to him, he kept turning up and playing for us. He was playing through a little bit of pain then had a good rest in the close season but there is still a little niggle there.”
Yet again, hindsight is 20/20 – but the facts are that Rangers eventually won League One by 39 points while Nicky Clark & Calum Gallagher were in reserve. Also, as he was dealing with the discomfort Daly scored two goals in the last two months of the season – so it is difficult to contend that his role was crucial to Rangers victories.
Mistakes are going to happen when managing a squad of players. Footballers want to play & will play through pain.
However, it is critical for the manager to have the foresight to sit a player down when there is a chance he may aggravate a pre-existing injury. McCoist got it right with Wallace & it likely means he’ll be ready for Tuesday’s match with Falkirk.
Unfortunately, it looks as if he may have shown the same caution with MacLeod.