Rangers go into tomorrow’s Old Firm clash with Celtic knowing the only thing at stake is bragging rights – but for a number of Steven Gerrard’s fringe players, it could be their last chance to prove they have a long-term future at Ibrox.
Regardless of the result tomorrow, there’s no trophy at stake or title on the line but such is the nature of the Old Firm that it’ll be as tense and hard-fought as if it was the final of the Champions League.
Gerrard has already spoken on several occasions about his unhappiness at the effort some of his squad have put in and their willingness to put the work in to show they want to succeed.
For some of them, tomorrow could give them a chance to prove Gerrard wrong and show that they can be part of a successful Rangers team and challenge for honours.
Players like Borna Barisic and Eros Grezda have been publicly criticised for their application and Barisic could well find himself given a surprise start to counter the threat of James Forrest.
The Croatian international has the talent to be a huge player for Rangers but so far he’s really not shown that he’s got the heart for it.
Grezda meanwhile might have already missed his chance with injury set to rule him out of yet another game.
If Barisic doesn’t start at left-back then Jon Flanagan probably will and the former Liverpool defender has made many of his critics do a 180 in recent weeks.
He’s never going to be Arthur Numan or Sasa Papac but he’s been solid enough recently and that might just be enough for Gerrard to give him the nod tomorrow.
Wes Foderingham is another fringe player who will get his shot tomorrow, thanks to Allan McGregor’s suspension.
Fod’s ability is no secret but his lack of game-time is likely to see him leave Ibrox in the summer.
If the former Gers number one puts in the sort of performance that he’s capable of then he might just force a rethink from the manager.
McGregor’s not getting any younger and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later and Foderingham is just as good as any other keeper in the country.
He might not be as good as McGregor but unless there’s going to be millions spent to bring a keeper in this summer then nobody who comes in will be at that level.
Andy Firth isn’t going to push McGregor for a start next season and Robby McCrorie would be best served spending the season on loan, so keeping Fod around wouldn’t be the worst idea.
With a bloated squad, there’s definitely going to be a number of departures from Ibrox this summer, but tomorrow should give a few of them a chance to win a reprieve and prove they belong at Rangers.