By Noel Whelan

7th Sep, 2021 | 12:00pm

'Van Dijk' claim made as Tavernier shares 'massive' Rangers boost - pundit

Noel Whelan insists the return of James Tavernier to first-team training is a massive boost for Rangers.

The former Aberdeen hitman, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, reacted as the player shared an update on his health.

Speaking on his Twitch streaming channel (via the Scottish Sun) Tavernier revealed he is still battling COVID but his health is “good”.

He also explained he has started training again ahead of a return to first-team action.

The Gers captain missed vital games against Alashkert and Celtic after a COVID outbreak at Ibrox.

The 30-year-old has already picked up there assists in three league outings this season as he attempts to match last season’s impressive attacking feat.

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Last year Tavernier scored 12 goals and registered nine assists in the league but Whelan claims the Gers haven’t just missed their captain’s attacking output.

“It is absolutely a boost to have him back,” Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Dylan Childs.

“He’s like Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool and when he came back, they have missed the presence of that player out of the field.

“He is a key part of their first 11 and has been for years and years now. Not just with his set-pieces but the way he leads that team.

“It’s a massive boost for Gerrard and sometimes when you have a player like that it’s a calming influence out there on the field as well.”

Tavernier could make his return from injury against St Johnstone next weekend.

If he is unable to play, it is expected Nathan Patterson will continue to deputise at right-back.

In other news, Pundit makes ‘massive’ claim as Morelos shares new Rangers future reveal.