Rangers are in Fourth Round Scottish Cup action against Stranraer this evening and Steven Gerrard has his first proper starting XI to select of 2020.
In many ways, this fixture is an ideal return to domestic action.
It may not be a particularly mouthwatering prospect for fans, but following a straightforward friendly assignment against Lokomotiv Tashkent on Saturday, a competitive clash against lower league opposition will bring a step up in intensity.
The Gers boss has already made it clear that he’ll be taking Stranraer seriously, but it won’t be all guns blazing and there were will be alterations from the norm [Rangers FC Twitter].
With five Premiership games in fifteen days starting with the visit of St Mirren in midweek, there are four key players that need not be involved at all at Ibrox this evening.
McGregor played in all but four of the Gers’ fixtures over the first half of the season, and shouldn’t be required tonight. A night off for the veteran will allow his very able deputy, Wes Foderingham, a rare appearance, while Andy Firth can make the step up to the bench.
Incredibly, Goldson played the full 90 minutes in every game over the first half of the campaign, bar the League Cup trip to East Fife in August. If anyone is deserving of an extended break from playing time, it’s the vice-captain. Summer signing George Edmundson has been short on opportunities, and he will come in to partner Nikola Katic.
Steven Davis has been excellent for Rangers so far this season but at 35, his playing time must be carefully managed. The Northern Ireland skipper missed much of December with a calf problem and although the Gers coped well in his absence, there’s no point rolling him out here and risking a flare-up.
The steel in the midfield, Jack was a standout performer up until the winter break. Now a polished operator well worthy of his recent Scotland caps, the 27-year-old is crucial if this team are to win things this season. The Scottish Cup will be a target, but Jack shouldn’t be required until the later rounds.
A fifth name to consider is Borna Barisic. With James Tavernier already sidelined for several weeks, an injury to the Croatian would be catastrophic.
However, given the lack of depth at full-back, he’s likely to at least be included on the bench as a contingency option.