FIRST it was his knee, then his foot.

In between, Filip Helander has been beset by a string of injury problems.

Willie Vass

Helander hasn’t played since April last year when he went off against St Mirren[/caption]

Willie Vass

He’s only been able to watch on from the stands this season[/caption]

So much so he hasn’t kicked a ball all season.

Indeed, the Swede’s last appearance for Rangers came way back on April 10, 2022.

Out of contract in the summer, most reckon Helander will now be moved on.

Michael Beale, however, may just have other ideas.

A virtual mainstay in the side when Steven Gerrard’s Gers swept to the title in 2021, Beale, right, knows just what a fully-fit Helander can bring.

The defender, who has made just 11 appearances in Light Blue since that championship-winning season, may not feature again until April this year as he works his way back to full fitness.

But Gers gaffer Beale warned against writing off the big Swede.

Instead, he reckons the 29- year-old can resurrect his career and hinted he may give him a platform to do it in Glasgow.

Beale revealed: “Fil’s probably two or three months away.

“In the interim, he has been blessed with twins, which must be amazing for him.

“In this moment, though, he’s taking the rough with the smooth if you like.

“He has those lovely moments when he can have that precious time with his new babies while going through his rehab.

“Listen, if the Fil Helander I know can get himself back then he’s a big asset to Rangers. He has had two horrible years of injuries. I’ve not been in the building when he’s had them but at 29 I don’t think he is done.

“Fil has probably got to prove a couple of things to himself more than anything else.

“I mean that in the sense of returning and staying fit for a period of time.

“Hopefully that will happen towards the real back end of the season.

“In terms of his contract, at this moment in time there have been no discussions with Fil, purely because of the length of time he’s been out injured.”

Helander was initially sidelined with a knee injury but his foot became the issue as he tried to plot his way back.

Since then he’s broken down almost every time he’s tried to ramp up his rehab.

Beale believes much of that is down to Helander’s desire to come back.

The Swedish international has missed an awful lot of football — including Gers’ historic run to last season’s Europa League final.

He hardly featured for previous boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst during the Dutchman’s year in charge.

But Beale believes there is, at long last, some light at the end of the tunnel. The Ibrox boss insisted: “He’ll be feeling a lot of frustration, a lot of regret.

“He missed the qualifying for the World Cup, then they don’t make the World Cup.

“He would have wanted to have made more of an impact with his national team.

“He missed the run to the final and the Europa League final itself. He missed the Scottish Cup win.

“He’s not living over in Scotland happy that he’s not playing football.
“He came here to play football for a big club and he’s missed out on an awful lot.

“I feel for Fil. He was signed to be a big player for this club and, when he was fit, he was just outstanding. Myself and Gary McAllister took an Old Firm game, remember, and Fil scored the winner for us.

“So I have some fond memories of working alongside him and hopefully he can get himself through this and get back playing.

“Hopefully that will be the end of his injury issues.”

As well as his many physical battles, Helander also has many psychological hurdles still to overcome.

For almost a year now he’s worked alone in the gym, pushing his rehabilitation as much as he dares.

Desperate to avoid another breakdown, the Swede is now following strict guidelines in an effort to return to the pitch.

It has been such a long, soul-searching journey, but Beale believes he has a part to play in his new-look Rangers side.

Beale said: “I see him in here every day and it must be so difficult. We’ve got a few players in the same boat.

“If I look at the squad this season, no Helander, no Ianis Hagi, Kemar Roofe barely, Tom Lawrence barely.

“They are all big players for Rangers. They are all arguably starters or definitely players in rotation of subs. I think it’s been a bit unfair.

“I’m probably in a job because of those scenarios, where a player has got injured and the manager hasn’t been able to select him for the team.

“You get dealt the results that come your way.

“At a club like this you need players like that fit.

“And probably towards the end of the season we’ll be asking how many starts we’ve had from that group of players.

“Next season, if they are all fit all of the time, then we’ll be a much stronger team for having them available.

“You’ve only got to see the impact Kemar had at Hampden in the recent cup game against Aberdeen. We need these guys fit and available.”

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