Philippe Clement has described fitness issues at Rangers as his “biggest puzzle” as he added another two players to the injury list.
Midfielder Nico Raskin will miss the trip to Dundee in the cinch Premiership on Wednesday night after being carried off the field on a stretcher during the 2-1 home win over Hearts on Sunday with an ankle injury, and defender John Souttar joined him on the sidelines with a muscle complaint.
Striker Kemar Roofe has been taken out of action as Rangers try to get to the root of his long-standing fitness issues while defender Dujon Sterling and winger Rabbi Matondo remain out with left-back Borna Barisic also missing recently.
Striker Danilo came off the bench to score the late winner against Hearts wearing a mask to protect a recent facial injury and, while attacker Tom Lawrence has returned to training, the trip to Tayside comes too soon for him.
Asked if he was surprised by the conditioning of some of the players at Ibrox since arriving to take over from Michael Beale, Gers boss Clement said: “Next question please.”
However, during the pre-match media conference at the club’s training ground he expressed his bewilderment.
The Belgian said: “(Raskin) is not good enough to be in the squad for tomorrow and that is a downfall because he was doing good things and taking steps.
“It is a pity but we need to find other solutions. I hope it is short term but we will see the next couple of days how these things evolve.
“Tom is closer because he is training but he is not fit enough to be in the squad.
“Danilo is ready to play. We will see what is important in this game, if it necessary that he starts or is ready to come on. It depends on the opponent and what profile you need.
“He is not ready for 90 minutes, that is logical.
It is quite a puzzle. It is the biggest puzzle that I ever saw to be honest, with all the injuries and players falling out.
“John Souttar will also not be available for the game with a muscle problem. Not a big one but not available for the game.
“We started with a lot of players unavailable, some players falling out in the last couple of weeks.
“So it will be important that in every game we look at the minutes of the players and try to build their physical condition and robustness in the next couple of weeks and months to have a bigger squad available.
“It is never short-term work, it is a long-term project, creating players ready for 90 minutes every three days for months.”