Rangers to keep Nigeria’s Afcon-bound Balogun, Bassey and Aribo for Old Firm derby - Van Bronckhorst

Joe Aribo, CARBacpagepix

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has confirmed that Nigerian players - Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey, and Joe Aribo – will be available to face Celtic in the Scottish Premiership match on January 2.

The Super Eagles players were doubtful to play for the Gers in the Old Firm clash at Parkhead as they were expected to have linked up with the Nigeria squad in preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations finals which will kick off on January 9 and end on February 6 in Cameroon.

The former Arsenal defender has revealed the availability of the players ahead of their top-flight fixture against Dundee United at Ibrox Stadium on Saturday.

“They will be here with the team, 100 percent. For me, it was already clear that we would release them if needed after the Old Firm game,” Van Bronckhorst told reporters as quoted by The Herald.

“So we have the full squad until we go into the winter break.”

The three players have been a revelation for Rangers especially the 25-year-old Aribo, who has managed six goals from 18 appearances.

Ahead of the Dundee fixture, Aribo is a booking away from being suspended and could thus miss the Old Firm derby, and Van Bronckhorst has explained his plans for the player.

“You are preparing the game for [Saturday], but you obviously have your plans for the next games if possible, especially if you have players one card from suspension,” Van Bronckhorst continued.

“Also physically you have to watch the load for the players. You have to take everything into account.”

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Nigeria have been drawn in Group D of the Afcon competition alongside Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, and Sudan and they will start their campaign with a game against the Pharaohs at Roumde Adjia Stadium on January 11.

The Super Eagles, who will be under the guidance of interim manager Augustine Eguavoen following the sacking of German Gernot Rohr, will then face Sudan on January 15 before winding up their group matches with a clash against Guinea-Bissau on January 19.