As Rangers count the cost of injuries to the club’s first team, we ask if the Gers support will ever actually get to see their strongest XI this season?
Rangers have been without Ianis Hagi, Nmandi Ofoborh, Filip Helander, Kemar Roofe, Alex Lowry, Ben Davies, John Souttar and now Tom Lawrence for part, most, or all of the season to date.
It has contributed to a real sense of frustration at Ibrox as a simultaneously bloated and understaffed squad is stretched to capacity and has, generally, underperformed.
The situation in defence in particular has been a real bugbear with American defensive midfield loanee James Sands the man tasked with filling the void caused by injuries.
The question however is, with everyone fit, what is Rangers best XI? And is it seriously good enough to reclaim ground in the title race?
Jon McLaughlin is a man under pressure after shipping eight goals in two games and putting in one of the worst Old Firm performances of all time.
But he is still probably the club’s number one choice between the sticks as Allan McGregor and Robby McCrorie watch on from the sidelines.
Any more slip ups and the calls to change will get louder.
GK – McLaughlin
A problem area all season long, Rangers are without three centre-backs of a high standard who are no doubt on sizeable wages.
Filip Helander is a perma crock, whilst John Souttar and Ben Davies have barely kicked a ball since joining this summer.
Connor Goldson is the one constant, with the £4m ex-Liverpool man Davies surely his expected defensive partner.
Ridvan Yilmaz was signed for £5m in the summer but so far cannot depose a resurgent Borna Barisic, with captain James Tavernier the main man on other side.
DR – James Tavernier, DC – Connor Goldson, DC – Ben Davies, DL – Borna Barisic
This is genuinely a tough one given the depth Rangers have in this position on paper and for many fans, the first choices would belie the way that Giovanni van Bronckhorst plays.
Two defensive midfielders is a mind-numbing no-no for a team that often plays at a snail’s pace, so we’re not even going to entertain the idea.
In our ideal XI, John Lundstram plays as a holding midfielder, with Tom Lawrence and Malik Tillman in front.
CDM – John Lundstram, CM – Malik Tillman, CM – Tom Lawrence
Two of these positions are surely nailed on but against the backdrop of contracts running down, the players filling them appear distracted.
Ryan Kent is not performing to a high enough level for Rangers whilst Alfredo Morelos has already been dropped for attitude issues. Both start in our ideal Rangers XI.
The question then is who goes out right, and as Giovanni van Bronckhorst did before us and before that crippling injury, Ianis Hagi is our choice. James Tavernier provides width and the Romanian ingenuity.