What eleven will the Rangers boss go with at Ibrox on Thursday night?
Rangers play Danish outfit FC Midtjylland in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League tonight at Ibrox, hoping to finish the job from an exciting first leg last week.
Steven Gerrard’s side picked up an impressive 4-2 victory in Denmark and a professional performance will ensure they progress into the play-off round to face Legia Warsaw.
That can’t be taken for granted though. The Gers boss warned in his pre-match press conference (BBC) that the defeat suffered by Celtic on Tuesday is a warning to his players that positive first leg results don’t always translate to success.
Rangers though could hardly be coming into the match in better form, having won all but one of their matches so far this season and having thrashed Hibernian 6-1 on Sunday.
Gerrard has lots of in form players to choose from and will likely go with his strongest eleven possible available from those who are at peak fitness.
The East Fife fixture on Sunday can’t be taken for granted, but you’d think if the Rangers boss was to rotate players out of the team, that would be the match to do it in.
In goal the select starts with Allan McGregor, who will need to continue to be wary of the aerial threat that the Danes pose. A quick set-piece or two could see them back into the tie in a big way and he’ll be needed to guard against that threat.
At right-back, there’s no way James Tavernier doesn’t lead his team and the central defensive pairing is likely to be the reliable Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic.
Gerrard suggested yesterday the form of Katic is the primary reason new signing Filip Helander is being kept out of the team (The Daily Record).
Borna Barisic has had a difficult start to the season, with Jon Flanagan preferred at left-back in the last two matches. The former Liverpool man should get the nod again.
A midfield three of Steven Davis, Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo would give the Gers both the defensive stability and attacking ambition to really take a grip of the game. All three were crucial cogs in the weekend Scottish Premiership win.
The toughest selection call Gerrard has to make is in attacking midfield, where he has Jordan Jones, Scott Arfield and Sheyi Ojo to choose from for two positions. All three have a shot of making the eleven.
Ojo was left out of last week’s clash in Denmark but played superbly against Hibs. His fierce shot allowed Jermain Defoe to score a poacher’s effort, also providing an assist for the veteran striker’s second. He capped his terrorising display with a late goal.
It would be harsh to drop Jones given recent form, but it could be time to see what the Liverpool loanee can do against Midtjylland as a right sided option, with Arfield supporting striker Alfredo Morelos from the central-left position.
The Colombian should undoubtedly get the nod as the team’s central striker, despite Defoe’s classy hat-trick against Hibs.
Your predicted lineup in full is: