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Bongani Zungu in quarantine and misses chance of Old Firm debut

Livingston v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Tony Macaroni Arena
(Image credit: Craig Williamson)

New Rangers recruit Bongani Zungu will be denied an Old Firm baptism of fire after being forced to quarantine on his arrival in Scotland.

Steven Gerrard completed a late swoop on deadline day to clinch the South Africa international’s loan signing from French outfit Amiens.

But the 28-year-old only crossed the Channel earlier this week and must now complete a 14-day stint in self-isolation before he can join his new team-mates, ruling him out of Saturday’s opening derby clash of the campaign at Celtic Park.

Gerrard said: “Zungu is currently on a quarantine. So unfortunately we won’t see him for possibly another 10 days.

“He arrived in the country maybe three days ago but obviously coming from France, that’s a country where he has to quarantine for two weeks.

“We have managed to get him a bike and some gym equipment to the place where he is staying and he will be quarantining for another 10 days.

“It’s unfortunate but that’s just the rules.”

Gerrard had 10 members of his first-team squad away on international duty, leaving him little time to shape up his side to face Neil Lennon’s team.

Among those returning back to Glasgow on Thursday was striker Alfredo Morelos, who faced a 7000-mile flight after helping Colombia secure a 2-2 draw with Chile on Wednesday, but the Ibrox boss is confident last season’s top scorer will be ready to take on the Hoops.

However, the match will come too soon for Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe despite the pair returning to training this week.

Gerrard said: “The whole squad has only had a short preparation time because Alfredo is not the only one who arrived yesterday. We had maybe half a dozen who came back on Thursday.

“He’s fine, he’s available to train today and I’ll have a chat with him and see where he is at.

“But we still have to assess a handful of players who arrived yesterday and that is the big challenge for both sets of players and staff.

“The preparation time is very unique and short, so we just have to manage it and go with it.

“On the injury front, Joe Aribo is really close now. Kemar Roofe is really close but I think this game might come a bit too soon but they were both in full training as of yesterday.

“It’s near enough a clean bill of health besides Nicola Katic, which is fantastic.”