Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has welcomed news that Hampden chiefs are set to trial concussion substitutes in this season’s Scottish Cup as he confirmed Leon Balogun will sit out Saturday’s clash with Motherwell after picking up a head knock.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) this week gave the green light for emergency replacements to be tested and the Scottish Football Association plans to introduce them at the “earliest possible opportunity”.
Asked if he welcomed the plans, Gerrard said: “Very much so. As someone who sampled the MLS as a player as well I know they are at the forefront of concussion and have been pushing it for a lot longer, going into it in more detail.
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“So I certainly welcome the trials up here in Scotland. I know England are looking into doing the same things and the quicker we can move the better.
“Because I think we have to look after the welfare of the players, certainly when it comes to head injuries as there has been a lot of talk about situations later on in life that head injuries can lead to dementia and stuff.
“I certainly welcome developments in that area to improve the game and the welfare of the players as well.”
Balogun will be missing for this weekend’s game with Motherwell at Ibrox, where Rangers will look to bounce back from losing for the first time in 28 games.
St Mirren claimed a shock Betfred Cup win as they stunned the Light Blues 3-2 on Wednesday night, grabbing their added-time winner after Balogun had been replaced following a clash of heads with Buddies striker Jon Obika.
Gerrard added: “From the other night, Leon had to come off with a head issue.
“There’s protocols now that we have to follow. I’ve spoken to the doctor on that so we will follow that medical guidance but he will be unavailable for tomorrow’s game.
“We’re hoping to have him available for the next one after the weekend.”
Previous to Wednesday’s defeat, Gerrard’s team had let in just four goals to domestic opposition this season but found their hopes of making the Betfred Cup their first major trophy win in a decade obliterated as they allowed Jamie McGrath to strike twice before Conor McCarthy’s late winner.
Gerrard can understand the disappointment of the Rangers fans after seeing another opportunity to end that long wait for silverware disappear but he does not plan to spend too much longer dwelling on his team’s latest missed chance.
He said: “We’ve been talking about blind spots and watching out for complacency, staying humble and realising the amount of work there is to do and where we are in the season.
“You know the messages we’ve been giving the players. They are well aware of that.
“But that still doesn’t take away from the fact that we’ve been disappointed with Wednesday night’s result.
“I can totally understand the fans’ frustrations and shock. They’ve just watched their team go on a 27-game unbeaten run and very rarely concede a goal while qualifying in Europe top of their group. To be in a bit of shock, to be disappointed and frustrated is pretty normal.
“It is what it is. It’s done now. We can’t change it. All we can do is control the future and it’s our job to get ready for tomorrow’s challenge in Motherwell.”
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