Nico Raskin is still firmly in the plans of Rangers manager Philippe Clement, but the Ibrox boss says he will have a fight on his hands to get into his midfield given how others have impressed in his position.

Raskin was sidelined for a little over two months over the festive period with an ankle problem, and has since found regular starts hard to come by, with the likes of Mohamed Diomande, Kieran Dowell and Dujon Sterling catching the eye in the heart of the Rangers midfield in his absence.

The Belgian hasn’t started a match since the surprise defeat to Motherwell in early March, and was left out of the squad altogether for last Sunday’s Old Firm meeting with Celtic. Clement though had some words of encouragement for his compatriot, as he urged him to force his way into the reckoning.

“Nico has been unlucky,” Clement said. “He started really well and played the first game [after I was appointed] and scored. He was one of our best players that day. Afterwards he got an injury and was out for a longer time and then there became more competition in the midfield. We have a lot of guys who did a lot of good things and Nico is among them, with Lunny (John Lundstram) the stable factor all the time.

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“Kieran Dowell did good things in midfield, Tom Lawrence in the number eight role, Dio came in, Dujon Sterling did good things – so there’s a lot of competition. It’s not that Nico is doing things bad now or not good. No. He’s working really hard.

“I see him evolving also. He’s better than when I saw him in October. He is a better player. But there is more competition also. That’s what you need in a top team to perform and to win a lot of games.”

Clement praised Diomande in particular for the impact he has made since arriving at Rangers in January, and put the quick adjustment that he and others like Fabio Silva and Oscar Cortes have made to life in Scotland down to the family atmosphere at the club.

“I think it’s one of the boys who can grow bigger than Rangers, although this is already a big team,” he said. “He has the potential for that. He needs to keep on improving but he has the right mindset towards that. He’s somebody who works hard every day, gives his best every day and is humble also. He gives his best for the team. Those are a lot of qualities.

“But I know that he has stepped into a really good club and a good dressing room. So, it’s because of all the other boys that he, Fabio and Oscar integrated really fast into the team, on the pitch and off the pitch, because all the players in the dressing room helped with that.

"And the people in the building also as there are a lot of people working around the players arranging everything. They helped in such a good way so that everyone feels here like they’re at home and that’s important as a player, I think.

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“When you step in [to a new club] in January it is always a difficult period as you are coming to a team where everyone has already been playing together. And suddenly you are there in a new environment, in a new country with new playing staff.

"And then you need to play every three days which is not easy. But the three of them have adapted really well because of all the players and staff around them.”