Ryan Jack has seen his Euro 2020 dreams shattered after being told he will not play again for Rangers or Scotland this season.
The Ibrox midfielder has struggled with a persistent calf issue for the past two seasons and has not played since trudging off against Dundee United back in February.
Now the 29-year-old has been told by a top London specialist he requires an operation to finally solve the problem and he will go under the knife next week – meaning he will play no part for Steve Clarke’s squad this summer.
It is a bitter blow for the former Aberdeen captain, who has already had to sit out Gers’ title run-in as they were crowned champions of Scotland for the first time in a decade.
Now Jack – who had established himself as a key man in the heart of Clarke’s midfield – faces the heart-breaking prospect of watching on from home as the Scots head to their first major finals since 1998.
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard delivered the shock update, saying: “Unfortunately it’s mixed news for Ryan and the bad news is he’s ruled out for the rest of the season, so you won’t see Ryan play for Rangers again this season.
“He’s also ruled out of the Euros this summer, which is bad news for him from a personal point of view and everyone connected with the Scottish game as I think he’s been phenomenal for the national team.
“He was very much looking forward to that so it’s sad news for him.
“But the good news is that we’ve found a solution and got to the bottom of the problem.
“All being well in terms of his rehab from the procedure that he will have next week, he should be due to return in pre-season at some stage.”
Clarke had been keeping his fingers crossed for a speedy recovery as his side prepare to take on the Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden either side of a trip to face England at Wembley.
He said: “I’m hugely disappointed for Ryan as he deserved to be part of our squad for Euro 2020.
“His performances for Scotland have been excellent, not least in the play-off final against Serbia when I thought he was outstanding at the heart of our midfield.
“I know how disappointed he is to miss out on the run-in to a memorable season – both with Rangers and with the national team at a major tournament this summer – but ultimately his long-term fitness is the most important objective for him now.
“We all wish Ryan a full and speedy recovery to enable him to get back to full fitness and playing at his best for club and country.”
Jack has missed 68 games through injury since moving to Ibrox in 2017 but Gerrard hopes the club have now finally found a solution to his injury problems.
“Hopefully,” he said. “As a medical team and a club, we’ve been putting a lot of effort in and a lot of time to try and find the right solution for Ryan.
“He has been frustrated and down. He missed the title run-in, which I know has frustrated him, and he has worked his socks off to put himself in a position to be in Scotland’s starting XI and he was really looking forward to the summer in terms of the Euros.
“He will be devastated deep down, I know he will. He is a winner, he wants to play. But now it is about putting the trust in the experts in this situation and they have found a situation that needs addressing.
“He needs a procedure to fix something that is very important. It wasn’t a case of trying to battle through.
“This is a situation that needs addressing right now and we need to trust the experts in this situation. We will, and next week some time he will have an important procedure that will hopefully, once he has recovered from that, mean he can play football matches consistently and he can be a help to us and Scotland moving forward.”
Jack’s news comes a day after Scotland forward Oli McBurnie was ruled out for the rest of Sheffield United’s season after breaking his foot.
Steve Clarke was already sweating over the fitness of Kieran Tierney, who is in danger of missing the remainder of Arsenal’s campaign because of a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Gerrard revealed he could plunge skipper James Tavernier straight back into action in Sunday’s Old Firm Scottish Cup clash with Celtic.
The skipper has not featured since damaging knee ligaments back in February but his boss said: “James will train with the team today full contact for the first time and it’s a situation we’ll make a real late call on.
“There’s still two big sessions but the good news he’s on the verge. Assuming he has two strong sessions will probably push me towards involving him.”