Rangers defender David Bates’ ankle injury that saw him stretchered off in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat by Celtic has come at the worst possible time for the 21-year-old.
Bates is looking at spending the next three weeks on the sidelines, according to the Daily Record, and faces a race against time to be ready for the Scottish Cup semi-final clash with Celtic on April 15th.
The former Raith Rovers defender was already holding off competition from Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso for a starting place but with Alves and Martin the likely defensive pairing for the next few weeks at least, Bates will face a fight to get back into the starting XI.
Alves is already clinging to his hopes of going to next summer’s World Cup with Portugal while Martin’s long-term future looks uncertain after falling out of favour at Norwich before joining the Gers on loan.
Add to that the potential for Ross McCrorie to be back fit around the same time and it could make everything much harder for Bates to get back into the side and nail down a place in the starting XI.
After starting the Gers last 11 games, Bates had clearly made himself first-choice but with a few weeks out of action and the Gers’ season now focused on one game, the injury’s timing is incredibly bad.
Then there’s the small matter of Bates’ contract negotiations – Bates’ current contract expires in the summer – and the possibility of adding a little bit more with a string of impressive performances.
While the 21-year-old will need to be at the top of his game to get back into the side, few would have expected him to become a first-team regular at Ibrox it wouldn’t be the first time Bates has defied expectations at Rangers.