Rangers v Real Betis injury news: Nicolas Raskin ruled out with calf problem in latest devastating blow
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Rangers came agonisingly close to winning the European League in season 2021/22 and the Ibrox club will be dreaming of another fairytale journey in the competition when they launch their group stage campaign against Real Betis at Ibrox.
It is the first competitive meeting between the two sides, who will both be confident of progressing through Group C which also contains Sparta Prague and Aris Limassol.
The La Liga side - who boast a number of high-profile players - finished sixth in the Spanish top tier last season and Michael Beale’s injury-hit squad will need to be at their best to kick off with a victory in front of their own supporters.
The Seville-based outfit make the trip to Glasgow off the back of a 5-0 mauling against Barcelona, but they reached the round of 16 in this tournament last term before eventually going down 5-1 to Manchester United on aggregate.
Gers suffer Raskin injury blow as Beale issues squad update
Nicolas Raskin was absent from Wednesday morning’s training session at Auchenhowie and Beale has since confirmed that the Belgian midfielder won’t feature until after the international break due to a calf issue.
The news comes as a devastating blow to the Light Blues boss, who is already without injured trio Todd Cantwell, Kieran Dowell (knee injuries) and Danilo (fractured cheekbone) for the forseeable future. The latter is set to miss at least SIX matches before returning to non-contact training next month.
Beale stated in his pre-match press conference: “Nico Raskin is out with a calf problem - Raskin, Cantwell and Danilo will be missing. We still have options in midfield - we are losing a good player but we have good ones coming in.
“Danilo has had a successful surgery on the areas impacted. He will be back in non-contact training come the end of the international break. He will come into non-contact training to begin with - he had surgery on Monday so the speed in getting this done is good. He has been in great spirits since.
“The injuries to Cantwell, Raskin and Danilo are not ideal - we hope Kieran Dowell will be back after the Livingston game.”
Academy players to be given opportunity with change at left-back
Raskin has established himself as a key figure in the Rangers side. His absence leaves Cifuentes, Ryan Jack and John Lundstram as the three main recognised central midfielders, with Tom Lawrence also able to slot in to a deeper role.
Left-back Ridvan Yilmaz can’t feature either after being omitted from the club’s European squad, despite starting at the weekend. That means Borna Barisic will reclaim his place in the team.
Beale revealed that a number of a few promising academy prospects - namely Zak Lovelace and Bailey Rice - could make the step up and be given a chance to impress over the coming weeks.
He added: “We have academy players coming through and there might be an opportunity for them in the domestic games coming up. (Jose) Cifuentes came in late to the team and has had good chances in several games, but has been unfortunate at times.
“The new players have been long enough now and they are ready to do. We have numbers available in attacking players and we will be expecting them to show their quality in the team.”
Quartet back for Betis in opener amid keeper crisis
Real Betis manager Manuel Pellegrini has been boosted ahead of their trip to Glasgow after four injured players were given the green light to travel with the squad.
40-year-old veteran former Manchester City and Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo could line up between the sticks for the first time this season after he was given the all-clear to return to training after recovering from a calf injury.
The Seville-based outfit were facing a keeper crisis after Portuguese stopper Rui Silva sustained a thigh tear during the 5-0 defeat to Barca at the weekend and had to be replaced at half-time by debutant B-team talent Fran Vieites.
Captain Andres Guardado (ankle), holding midfielder William Carvalho (calf) and right-back Aitor Ruibal (surgery) have been deemed fit and available after a recent spell on the sidelines, but they are without £22million defender Luiz Felipe who moved to Saudi Arabia just before the transfer deadline.
Knee-injury victim Nabil Fekir and Senegalese defender Youssouf Sabaly (muscle) are not expected to make the trip.