16/05/2022May 17 LIVE
Kemar Roofe ruled out of key Rangers games with knee injury
The striker will miss league games against Motherwell and Celtic and at least the first leg of the Europa League semi-final.
Rangers have been hit with a major blow after Kemar Roofe was ruled out of a crucial run of games with a knee injury.
The striker will miss cinch Premiership games against Motherwell on Saturday and Celtic the following weekend as well as the Europa League semi-final first leg against RB Leipzig in Germany in between.
The former Leeds and Anderlecht player could also be a fitness doubt for the home leg on May 5.
Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey faces a similar lay-off after injuring his hamstring during Rangers’ Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic on Sunday.
Roofe performed well against Celtic after hitting four goals in his previous two games and his absence compounds the absence of Rangers’ top goalscorer Alfredo Morelos, who is out following thigh surgery.
Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst said: “Aaron had to come off with a hamstring problem, we have assessed him this week and hopefully we will have him back around the Leipzig home game.
“We also had a problem with Kemar Roofe after the game. The next day he felt his knee. For him it is the same, he will be out for some weeks and hopefully also back for me to pick around the Leipzig home game.”
With Cedric Itten not featuring in the league since a 3-3 draw with Ross County on January 29, the onus will be on Fashion Sakala to provide a threat in the centre-forward area.
The Zambia international claimed the winner against Celtic on Sunday, although it was officially given as an own goal from Carl Starfelt, and he has an impressive record against Motherwell – half of his official 10-goal tally have come against the Lanarkshire side.
“Of course with Morelos already out and Kemar out for a couple of weeks, we have less options up front,” Van Bronckhorst said.
“But as always we have to go on and make sure we embrace the challenge.
“The atmosphere in the group is good and we just have to make sure we pick the best team for every game.
“We are very positive, although we have some injuries added to their list. All the players who are available are capable and know the task ahead of us.
“(Sakala) has played well in that position in the last couple of games. We have limited options up front but eventually other players have to stand up and are given more time to play.
“That is why you have a big squad, for moments like this.”
Rangers succeeded in a request to bring their trip to Fir Park forward to Saturday to give them an extra 24 hours to prepare for their first leg in Germany.
Van Bronckhorst said: “I am very happy about everyone involved in pushing the game forward – Motherwell, the SPFL and the police as well. It is good for all of us and gives us more time to prepare for the Leipzig game.
“I am very grateful but if any club in Scotland is involved in Europe we all have to do the same and make sure teams get the best preparation for Europe.”
Meanwhile, Van Bronckhorst offered Rangers fans hope over the future of Alex Lowry after Newcastle were reported to be in talks with his agent.
The 18-year-old midfielder has made four first-team appearances and scored in a Scottish Cup win over Stirling.
“Alex is one of our big talents coming through the academy and we are in talks for him to sign a new contract, because I think he will be an important player for the future of this club,” the Ibrox manager said.
“Talks are still in process so hopefully we will have positive news in the coming weeks.”