Rangers FC head coach Michael Beale spoke about his pair of on-loan American players on Friday, laying heavy compliments on Malik Tillman and addressing an ongoing injury problem for James Sands.
On the heels of a strong run in the Scottish Premiership, which has seen the team undefeated over their last eight games with six of those being wins, Rangers will momentarily turn their sights towards the League Cup, where they play Aberdeen in the semifinal on Sunday.
Gers head coach Michael Beale spoke to the press on Friday afternoon, and addressed the loan situations with Tillman and Sands, along with his thoughts on their places in the team on both the short- and long-term.
“Both situations are ongoing,” he stated regarding the club’s intentions to extend their loans past the current season. “There is no rush on those because our deadlines are later in the summer for them.”
Tillman has already stated that he was open to remaining with the team and will undoubtedly be a target for an extension or outright transfer. Beale was hesitant to give any clear indication about their plan in the summer, but had no shortage of compliments for the USMNT prospect.
“Malik is showing that he’s one of the stronger players in the league,” he confidently declared. “It’s fair to say that I’m working very hard on him in some areas of his game, and he’s responding really well.”
“He’s a key part of the team right now.”
In contrast, Sands has had less consistent playing time since arriving in Glasgow one year ago, although the coach recognizes that his tactical deployment has contributed to a certain extent.
“To be fair to James, he’s had to play predominantly as a center back, even going back to the games under [former head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst] at PSV, which were fantastic results.”
Beale is speaking of the final qualification round for the Champions League back in August, where Rangers defeated Dutch team PSV Eindhoven by a 3-2 aggregate margin with Sands playing 180 minutes in the center of defense.
Beale continued, “He came in as a guy who could play at midfield, and [also] play at center back if required. He’s had to play at center back more than we expected, even when I first came in and we had the injuries.”
Despite having used Sands as a bench option for the last few games, Beale is eager to see the American play at his natural defensive midfield spot before making any decisions about his future with the team.
“I’d like to give him the opportunity to play a little bit more in his favorite position before we make any decision,” Beale concluded, adding “James is a great boy to work with.”
Nevertheless, that chance will likely not come over the weekend, as the coach revealed that the New York native is recovering from an injury that kept him out of their previous game.
“He’s had a bit of a knock,” Beale clarfied. “He was listed on the bench at Dundee United but wasn’t fit once we actually got to the stadium. He didn’t feel right to play. So [he’s] not returned to training yet and he’s obviously a massive doubt. He’ll return to training tomorrow for this weekend.”