On Wednesday afternoon, it emerged that Brandon Barker had been replaced in Rangers’ Europa League squad by Filip Helander [STV].
It’s not yet known what the reasoning was behind the call. Yet, whether Barker has picked up a niggle or was the victim of a tactical reshuffle, it’s a frustrating early setback.
The 22-year-old has finally found a permanent home after being shunted around from loan spell to loan spell by Manchester City over the last few seasons.
At the Etihad, the presence of the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane made a first-team breakthrough unrealistic.
However, while the move to Ibrox may have increased his chances of first-team football, he still faces stiff competition for places.
Right now, Steven Gerrard has a multitude of options on the left side. Jordan Jones has started impressively, while Jake Hastie and Jamie Murphy (unless a loan spell comes to fruition) both remain options on that side. Furthermore, if Stevie G opts not to play an out and out winger, he can deploy Scott Arfield in a slightly more tucked in left-sided slot (Predicted XI).
What’s more, with two weeks left in the transfer window, rumours continue to swirl about Ryan Kent potentially returning to the club [Scotsman]. His arrival would make things twice as difficult as he was a nailed-on starter at left wing for much of last season.
Rangers winger Barker must establish himself early on
With all that competition, Barker will have been hoping to hit the ground running. His debut is out of the way after 30-minute run out at East Fife on Sunday. Yet, this late exclusion from the Europa League squad halts that momentum a little.
Let’s hope if the ex-Hibs loanee is injured, it’s just a minor knock. If it’s a tactical exclusion, maybe he’ll get a run against St Mirren at the weekend.
It’s tough coming in late in the window, but he needs a chance to show what he’s got, sooner rather than later, especially if the return of Kent is imminent.