Rangers manager Steven Gerrard watched Ibrox new boy Leon Balogun stroll through his Gers debut yesterday against Aberdeen – but faces a selection dilemma for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Leverkusen.
Balogun won’t be able to play against the Germans in the second leg of the last sixteen tie meaning either George Edmundson or Filip Helander are likely to get the nod alongside Connor Goldson.
Helander has only made a handful of appearances for the first-team or reserves since picking up a foot injury in December’s League Cup final defeat by Celtic so it would be a huge gamble to through the Swede in against Leverkusen, although he has far more experience than Edmundson.
For his part, the former Oldham defender has shown up well when thrown into big games – the previous round win over Braga – and he’s impressed when called upon so far in pre-season.
Gerrard would have almost certainly preferred to have Balogun available for the trip to Germany, although it could force him into using his squad a little bit more.
With the Gers chasing a 3-1 deficit from when the sides met in March, Gerrard could even decide to use some more of his fringe players and allow his senior stars a bit of time to recharge their batteries before what is certain to be a gruelling season.
Both Helander and Edmundson will be hoping for the opportunity against Leverkusen to stake their claim for a regular place in the starting XI and it’ll be interesting to see what Gerrard does.
There were no hints after yesterday’s win over Aberdeen with both players spending the full game on the bench so we might have to wait until the teams are confirmed before we know what he decides.