Rangers trio Aribo, Balogun and Bassey left in limbo after Nigeria sack manager

The availability of Rangers players Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey for the Old Firm derby on 2 January has been put in fresh doubt.

The trio are expected to be called up to the Nigeria squad
in January for the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins on 9 January.

The tournament’s rules state that players must join up with their countries 10 days before this date, which threatened to leave Rangers without key players for the game against Celtic.

However in November, Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr suggested
he was open to the idea of Aribo, Balogun and Bassey joining up later after the
derby.

“We need a good preparation, we need the players at least ten days before but like you know in the UK, they play,” Rohr said.

“Somebody called me from Glasgow already. They have the
derby Rangers v Celtic on the second day of January and asked if we can let the
players play.

“We have a lot of problems to prepare the team, but I think we will have most of our players at least ten days before.”

However, yesterday (12 December) the Nigerian Football Federation announced that Rohr had been sacked less than a month before the start of AFCON.

BBC Sport claim that one of the reasons for the decision was that Rohr “had created a toxic environment”.

Technical director Augustine Eguavoen has been appointed as
interim manager and will lead the Super Eagles at the tournament in Cameroon.

Rangers will be hoping that Eguavoen takes the same flexible stance that Rohr did on Aribo, Balogun and Bassey or else they could be in trouble at Celtic Park.

If the trio are forced to join up with their national team before
the Old Firm, that is two of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s centre-back options and
his star midfielder gone for a pivotal match.

Balogun is yet to feature under the Dutchman so perhaps
would not be as big a miss, but Bassey has been an unsung hero and Aribo has scored
three goals in five games since the appointment.

A nervous wait is now in store until Eguavoen makes the
picture clearer.

This article was originally posted here
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