PHILIPPE Clement has expressed hope Rangers left back Ridvan Yilmaz will be available for the cinch Premiership game against Celtic at Ibrox a week tomorrow.

Clement has been pleased to see Kieron Dowell, Ross McCausland, Abdallah Sima and Dujon Sterling take part in training at Auchenhowie this week and stated that every member of the quartet is in contention to feature in the Premiership encounter with Hibernian in Govan this afternoon.

However, the Belgian, whose team is a point behind their city rivals in the league table with a game in hand, is unsure if on-form defender Yilmaz, who suffered a knock on international duty with Turkey, will be able to play in the derby. 

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“The players who are back in training are Dujon, Kieran, Abdallah and Ross,” he said. “The guys who are out are Ridvan, Ryan (Jack), Oscar (Cortes) and Danilo.

“They (Dowell, McCausland, Sima and Sterling) are in contention for Hibs but, of course, not to play 90 minutes. We cannot have four or five players like that on the bench. So we need to take that into account and make good choices around that.

“I can only put so many players on the bench who can only play 20 or 30 minutes. Because you always need to think, ‘What if somebody gets an injury in the first half, or half-time or whatever and we don’t have 12 or 13 players on the bench?’ So you need to look to find a good balance. That’s one thing.” 

Glasgow Times: Clement added: “Ridvan is not going to be long, long term. We are going to see next week. There is a possibility he can be fit for next week, but it is still a doubt. We will see next week to make more information about that.

“For the other players, Ryan will not be back next week and Danilo and Oscar also. So it’s only about Ridvan.” 

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Sima, the Brighton loanee, scored 15 goals in 33 appearances for Rangers in the first half of the 2023/24 campaign. But the 22-year-old suffered a thigh injury which required surgery when he was away with Senegal at the African Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast in January.

Clement is pleased to have the forward back in time for the Scottish title run-in and the Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden next month.

“He’s now in contention for this game so for next week he will be more in contention if he keeps on making steps,” he said. “He did now two trainings with the team. So we have to work on that. 

“It is important of course, but he has been a long time out and you cannot expect miracles from the start. He has shown his quality, he has his power and pace. He has the appetite for goals and he came back in a good way for the training. That is positive.

“It is now building rhythm again, making him stronger again and then he is going to play an important part I think in these last two months.”