BRUNO ALVES is set to make his return to Rangers action on Friday night after coming through the international break unscathed.
The towering defender hasn’t featured for Gers since limping off in the League Cup win at Partick Thistle on September 19, but, after an intensive recovery session, he made the bench for Portugal as they defeated Switzerland last night to qualify for the World Cup.
Boss Pedro Caixinha gave an update on his situation today, saying: “I think Bruno will arrive back in Scotland today and will be training with the group tomorrow. He will be able to be with us on Friday.
“With his situation, it was all about following the process – he did everything and has totally recovered from the injury on the calf.”
Caixinha was naturally delighted to see his and Alves’ home nation qualify for next summer’s tournament in Russia, which follows on from their victory at Euro 2016.
He was questioned on why they are doing so well at the moment, to which he replied: “I feel we are a very strong nation in football. We are much more solid than we were years ago, and I think this is the fifth qualification in a row we have had – and that means for 20 years we have been doing things okay.
“It’s the opposite for Scotland, and since 1998, they have not been in a major tournament. We have already won the Euros and made the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup, and now, again, we are directly into the World Cup without the need for play-offs.
“It was not easy against Swtizerland – but Portugal is doing things okay, it has a fantastic coach, a great group of players and a totally different mentality.
“They know what it means to win, so they are going in that direction.”
The questioning then turned to Scotland, and their failure once again to reach a major tournament – and to one extent it is a surprise for Caixinha, as when he studied for his coaching badges here, he was mightily impressed with the quality of the coaches.
He added: “When I came here to do my badges, I was really obsessed with the way things are done here with regards to the coaches and their information and education.
“I really learned a lot when I was here and with the education of the coaches being so good, I would expect that things would be going in that direction too from the bottom to the top.
“But, the focus is on the fitness side and the physicality side, and we are not focussed on the main part of the game, which is the decisions, the style of play, the game models and the training methodology.
“A lot of things surround football nowadays, and we need to understand that information will be very, very useful for us.”