Steven Gerrard insists Ryan Jack will not be rushed back for Champions League qualifying duty despite the Rangers midfielder successfully undergoing surgery.
The Scotland ace was given the devastating news last month he would miss this summer’s Euros due to a problematic calf complaint.
However, Jack took to social media this week to reveal the operation to finally solve his long-standing issue had gone to plan and he was now focusing on returning to full fitness next season as Gers launch the defence of their title.
The Light Blues are also hoping to reach the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time in a decade, with their opening qualifier scheduled for August 3-4.
With Glen Kamara banned following his bust-up with Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela, Gerrard could certainly do with Jack making a speedy recovery.
But Gerrard does not want to risk further damage and has vowed to give the former Aberdeen man all the time he needs.
“Ryan has had successful surgery,” said the Ibrox boss, who confirmed Borna Barisic and Scott Arfield will sit out Wednesday’s trip to Livingston. “We spoke to the surgeon after the operation and he was really happy with how that went.
“He will start his rehab now and hopefully we’ll have him back some time in pre-season.
“Will he be fit for the Champions League qualifiers? I think it’s too early to say that.
“You’re looking at something like a three-month rehab from surgery – and that’s assuming everything goes according to plan.
“It’s too early to put a game or a date target on that.
“If he could be available for the qualifiers that would be fantastic for everyone connected to the club.
“But one thing for sure is we won’t be rushing it.
“It’s the type of surgery where you can’t afford to rush it. You’ve got to let it take its course.
“I know Jacko will be pushing to get back as quick as he can but we’ll be guided by the medical advise.
“The key for me is not to put a time on it and get Ryan Jack in the best possible shape so he can repeat games, because if he does he makes my team and squad a lot stronger, that’s for sure.”
Gerrard was hit with a further blow on Monday when UEFA rejected Kemar Roofe’s appeal against the four-game European ban he received for his challenge on Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar.
Leon Balogun is also suspended after being sent off in that controversial Europa League clash with the Czech champions, but Gerrard is confident his squad will be ready for their Champions League bid having stepped up their recruitment last week with the signing of Oostende’s Fashion Sakala.
“We have a recruitment strategy here that doesn’t stop,” he said. “Obviously Jack Simpson and Scott Wright and now getting Fashion Sakala done and dusted is helpful for me because they will be here from the first day of pre-season.
“Scott and Jack will be like two new signings. Fashion is coming in after a productive season in Belgium.
“He will make us a lot quicker, a lot more dynamic, so I’m really excited to work with him. There is potential there on a big scale.
“And there’s other areas of the squad that we’re actively working on strengthening in the background.
“And come the Champions League qualifiers we will have a team ready to go.
“It won’t be a perfect situation whatever happens recruitment wise because not having Roofe, Kamara and Balogun is obviously a huge blow.
“But it’s my job to make sure the squad can cope without them and I’ll do everything I can to put us in the best place.”