PHILIPPE Clement has expressed his sympathy with Danilo after it emerged the Rangers forward would not return to action from a knee injury until the end of the season.

The Brazilian, a £5.6m signing from Feyenoord during the summer, has been sidelined since the cinch Premiership win over Hearts at Tynecastle at the start of last month.

Clement, who has Ryan Jack and Tom Lawrence available for selection again and is hopeful Ben Davies will return to action next week, has admitted the 24-year-old is some way away from making his comeback. 

It had been hoped that Danilo, who underwent knee surgery after the league game in Gorgie, would be able to feature following the winter break.

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But as he prepared for the Scottish Cup fourth round game against Dumbarton at The Rock today, Clement said: “No, it was a really severe injury. It's a normal problem.

“We cannot speak about three or four weeks in a rehab like that. We will see. We are not going to force things for the last game of the season. That’s also stupid. It’s better to see that it’s 2000 per cent sure. Step by step, he is doing his rehab good. 

“It was, let’s say, an unlucky tackle how he twisted his knee. It’s a pity because we was doing a lot of good things and he was growing. He feels really good here in the club and he felt good in the way of football.

“For me, it’s always a pity when you see a player getting injured. They’re all like my children so you don’t want to see your children hurt. Ryan and Tom are available, but not for 90 minutes. It’s about building the story with them.”

The Herald: Meanwhile, Clement has stressed that he will pick his strongest side to play Dumbarton if the pitch at The Rock passes a 1pm inspection this afternoon - and will expect his players to perform at their best and secure a place in the next round regardless of the conditions underfoot.

“There has been contact with Dumbarton,” he said. “But we cannot change the situation with the pitch if it is frozen or if it is ready. We cannot put a roof over the field so that there’s no water going on it.

“I have seen it on a video. At first I was thinking about going there to look, but I know now if I do something it is everywhere so I didn’t do it. They have covers.

“At the end of the day it is the decision of the referees about whether it is possible to play or not. I am not a greenkeeper, I am not a weather forecaster guy. So, no, I am just preparing the team for every scenario.”

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Clement added: “The pitch is really bad, but it is what it is. I said it before, I don't want excuses from my players. I said it before, if we need to play on the parking lot to win games, we're going to do that.

“The quality that I expect from my players? If it’s on a like that it is different football. You know there are more mistakes and more passes that are less fluent than normal.

“But you need to adapt as a player and as a coach also in your mind. It is about winning that game and going to the next round. That is most important.”