Barry Ferguson’s hopes of rescuing his Rangers career and his reputation suffered what could be a fatal blow yesterday after he was ruled out for the rest of the season.
The 31-year-old midfielder tore a calf muscle and was forced from the field less than two minutes into Tuesday’s reserve match against Hearts and his worst fears were confirmed.
He faces between four and six weeks on the sidelines, meaning he will not be available for the remainder of the campaign.
That will spark speculation that he has already played his last game for the club which this month suspended him for two weeks without pay for his behaviour while on Scotland duty.
He was punished along with Ibrox team-mate Allan McGregor for flicking V-signs at photographers days after being dropped from the national team for indulging in an early-hours drinking session.
Ferguson was also stripped of the captaincy and he and McGregor were banned from representing Scotland ever again.
Upon punishing the pair, Rangers manager Walter Smith briefed reporters that their Ibrox careers were over.
But he performed a dramatic U-turn once their suspensions had been served, welcoming them back to the squad and admitting he was wrong to suggest they would never be picked again.
However, Ferguson was one of a number of players Rangers were prepared to sell in the January transfer window as they looked to cut both their level of debt and their wage bill.
As one of the biggest earners at the club, it seems unlikely he would not find himself in a similar position this summer.
Meanwhile, Rangers assistant boss Ally McCoist insists moaning about the SPL’s post-split fixtures is a pointless exercise.
A number of clubs have complained about their lot since the final five fixtures of the season were announced on Sunday, including the Ibrox club’s arch rivals Celtic. The Hoops have demanded an explanation as to why Rangers will end up playing three home games against Hearts when a trip to Tynecastle would have provided a much stiffer test.
But McCoist said: "The split is what it is and you can mump and moan about things all you like. You just have to take your chances with it when you get them.
"Everyone plays against each other once when the top six break away and you need to get on with it. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn’t.
"People will always find something to complain about but I’m certainly not doing it. We’re happy with how the last five matches have worked out. The SPL do their best to accommodate everybody and, while we’d rather play our last game at home, we haven’t got that. That’s fine and we’ll just see what that brings us.
"All of our matches will be tough, no matter where they are played, so we’ll just roll our sleeves up, get on with the task in hand.”