Ever since Philippe Clement arrived at Rangers, there has been constant chat regarding his opinion on Todd Cantwell.
This has moved up a level in recent days, as several corners of the media have reported that the Belgian doesn’t fancy Cantwell at all and he could be lined up for a January exit.
To me, this whole debacle is a baffling one.
What is the evidence that the former Norwich man isn’t fancied by his new manager? The fact that he got taken off at half time against Aberdeen? Playing on the right hand side against Sparta or being left out the starting 11 at Livingston?
When you dig down past the headline, these scenarios are more of a manager who knows the current state of his players, rather than one playing favourites.
For weeks now, Clement has lambasted the mounting injury list he inherited at Ibrox and how the fitness of the squad hasn’t been properly addressed for a long time now.
Due to this, he stated that he would rather manage the minutes of those returning from the treatment table carefully, instead of rushing those back only for them to quickly be out again. Especially whilst the available squad list is as small as it had been when he took over.
Cantwell was one of those players who wasn’t fully fit when Clement arrived, having been out since the 1-0 defeat to Celtic. This is why we are seeing more minutes from the likes of Sam Lammers in the team in the games before the international break.
As up-and-down as Lammers form has been this season, he’s had no injury issues since arriving at the club, so Clement knows he has no issues playing for the duration of matches.
Cantwell on the other hand is being used in a way to build him back into fitness, ideally getting to this international break where the manager will have the whole fortnight to work with him and the others who have missed time for as long as needed.
The Englishman remains the top player at Rangers without a shadow of a doubt, and when on song, he is pivotal to how the team play, as we saw during the first half against Sparta.
Any of the paper talk of him moving away from Glasgow should be taken as just that. He clearly loves life up here at Rangers, and how he’s been received by the fans, and the only thing right now that could prize him away from here would be a big money offer.