RANGERS skipper James Tavernier will be out for at least a fortnight following an appendix operation.
The right-back, who has made 36 appearances this season and has been a key player for Steven Gerrard, will miss tonight’s Scottish Cup-tie against Stranraer at Ibrox.
Tavernier, 28, could also sit out the Premiership matches against St Mirren, Hearts and Ross County.
Gers boss Steven Gerrard, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “He’ll probably be missing a couple of weeks. He’s had a minor procedure around his appendix which was sorted out yesterday. It went really well.
“These situations can be worse, it can be up to six weeks or a couple of months if there are complications or the appendix bursts.
“But, contrary to rumours, that wasn’t the case. We’ve managed to address the situation really early. It’s more like a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months.
ON THE BAWL…Steven Gerrard prepares for tonight’s Scottish Cup-tie against Stranraer without his skipper.
“James was totally fine in Dubai, flew back and had a day off. The morning we were about to come in, he started to feel a bit of abdominal pain and wasn’t sure what it was. He called the doctor and, thankfully, we’ve got one of the best doctors in the business. He sent him to a specialist straight away and got to the problem early.
“I’m confident we can cope without James. It’s not ideal, as he’s been there every session, every game. Hopefully, it’s only going to be a couple of weeks and it’s not a major problem.”
Tavernier’s absence offers former Liverpool right-back Jon Flanagan, who is out of contract at the end of the season, the chance to get an extended run in the side.
Gerrard added: “Jon’s in the best shape I’ve seen him this season. He came over to Dubai absolutely flying. He trained right through the winter camp and he’s obviously trying to earn a contract here. So, I’ve got no doubts that Jon will be waiting in the wings and desperate to play.
“We’ve got a game now every three or four days, right through to the next international break. So, there’s plenty of football there and I know Jon’s ready. I had a chat with him yesterday and I can see it in his eyes that he’s ready.”
Matt Polster, the former MLS defender, and youngster Nathan Patterson could offer the Ibrox gaffer alternatives during the crowded schedule.