RANGERS manager Philippe Clement is facing a defensive crisis ahead of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final with John Souttar definitely out and Ridvan Yilmaz a doubt after picking up a new injury.

Clement confirmed that centre-half Souttar will not be able to play against Celtic at Hampden on Saturday and revealed that left-back Yilmaz is fighting to be fit after suffering a fresh knock against Hearts at Tynecastle last weekend.

The Belgian, who did not name Borna Barisic on the bench in Gorgie, is also still unsure if Leon Balogun, who has been sidelined since coming off at half-time in the cinch Premiership game against Kilmarnock in Govan on May 6, will be able to feature.

He explained that Turkish internationalist Yilmaz, who spent six weeks on the sidelines after suffering an injury during the international break in March, had “tears in his eyes” when he told him about his latest issue this week.

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John Lundstram, who has missed Rangers’ last two games because of the suspension he received after getting red carded against Celtic at Parkhead, has played at centre back in the past and could slot in to his rearguard if required.

But Clement could potentially be forced to play youngsters Leon King and Robbie Fraser at centre-back and left-back respectively in his back four against the newly-crowned Scottish champions on Saturday if Balogun, Barisic and Yilmaz are unavailable for selection. 

The Herald: He admitted that he will wait until the morning of the game before deciding on his starting line-up. “That’s still the case,” he said. “There’s a clarity on some things but on some things not. Some players will train for the first time tomorrow (Friday) for example. So there’s no clarity on that for me right now. 

“John for sure will not be available, Leon there is a possibility. At the end of the (Hearts) game you get two goals against with a player (Yilmaz) who comes in but hurts himself again during that moment.

“He came in my office the next day with tears in his eyes to tell me he felt something again so we will see if we can get him fit for this cup final.”

Clement, who did not name Tom Lawrence and Kemar Roofe in his match day squad against Hearts and who is also without long-term absentees Oscar Cortes, Danilo and Conor Goldson, felt that his lengthy injury list contributed to Rangers’ late collapse in the Premiership.

He reiterated that he is working hard behind the scenes with members of the Ibrox coaching and medical staff to ensure that his players are far fitter next season.

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“I’ve never encountered a situation like it’s and I never want to see it again,” he said.  “We are busy within the club to make a good evaluation – with people inside the club, with me and with people outside to solve it for next season. We are pretty far in that. 

 “But you need to prepare everybody then for everything. That’s of course more difficult. It’s easier to have a team that’s playing for weeks or months together to prepare them for the game but that’s not the case and it’s not been the case for six months. 

“I don’t think I’ve had four games in a row when I could play the same 11. That’s the situation. We have to make the best of it. The team have done that also.

“The players have been available to play in different positions to give their best for 15 minutes or 30 minutes if they have been coming back from injury and have been building up again. But you have also the downfall of that also.” 

Clement continued: “But the most important thing for me is to make things better and to make the right conclusions. Why do we have so many injuries and because of that we need to swap players? And to get players in who come out of injury and who don’t have their rhythm like before.

“That killed in a way the momentum that we had building up until six weeks ago. We were getting more and more players fit and understanding the story and more automatism on the pitch. And then you get more injuries and people not ready so other people have to step in who have less experience and make more mistakes. The Hearts game was like that.”

“Now it's about this one moment, 90 minutes, 120 or 120 with penalties, to give everything as a whole squad with everyone who is available. I think a few guys want to come on the pitch with crutches! I cannot allow that of course but we are going to go hard with all the energy available in the building.”

The Herald: