Steven Gerrard sent a firm message with his Rangers starting XI in Porto on Thursday evening.

Previously, there has been criticism that some players in the team have an air of being ‘undroppable’.

James Tavernier and Connor Goldson have been given that label at times and they continued in the side. Yet, two others seen by many as also untouchable, Sheyi Ojo and Scott Arfield, were left out.

Ojo has flattered to deceive over the last two months. (Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Neither player could legitimately feel hard done by for their omission.

Ojo has five goals so far in a Rangers shirt, but only one in his last 12 appearances [Soccerbase]. Meanwhile, Arfield has just two goals and one assist in 17 outings in 2019/20 [Transfermarkt].

Those are poor returns from the two players who are supposed to form Alfredo Morelos’s support act in attacking areas. Yet, until last night, they had continued to be selected.

However, it appears that both players putting in poor showings at Hearts on Sunday, prompted the manager to finally shake things up.

Fit-again Ryan Kent came in for Ojo, and surprisingly, Brandon Barker, rather than Greg Stewart, replaced Arfield.

Going with two out and out wingers worked a treat, with the extra pace stretching Porto on the break, while Kent had a hand in the Rangers goal.

Kent is pulled back by Mateus Uribe. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

It served a double purpose, though, by also sending out a strong message to the squad. You have to perform to keep warranting selection.

Scott Arfield was an absolute mainstay last season. A lynchpin and one of the first names on the teamsheet. Yet, with such strength in depth after a summer of recruitment, even he has to earn his spot going forward.

Let’s hope being left out brings out the best in both he and Ojo, with the Liverpool loanee, in particular, looking a little too comfortable in the shirt in recent weeks.

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