Rangers take on Aberdeen in the early kick-off this afternoon as the 2020/21 Scottish Premiership campaign gets underway.
The Gers come into the game high on confidence after a productive pre-season with wins over Lyon, Nice, Motherwell and Coventry City, but this is where the real challenge begins.
A double injury blow means Aberdeen won’t be as dangerous up top as they otherwise might have been, yet Derek McInnes’ side are unlikely to lie down at Pittodrie.
Steven Gerrard has had a chance to have a look at the majority of his squad in recent weeks but has two experienced players unavailable for this one.
Jermain Defoe is nursing a hamstring injury, while Steven Davis has just missed out with an Achilles problem.
Goalkeeper, Jon McLaughlin, impressed during his pre-season outings, but there’s little doubt that Allan McGregor will be selected between the sticks.
Barring any late niggles, James Tavernier will skipper the side at right-back with Borna Barisic slotting in on the left.
Connor Goldson will start at the heart of the defence and it’s likely that George Edmundson will be named alongside him.
Filip Helander is unlikely to be risked after a stop-start pre-season, while Leon Balogun has only just arrived from Wigan, so the powerfully built former Oldham Athletic centre-back is set for a big opportunity and what would be just his fifth Premiership start.
In midfield, Steven Davis’ injury makes it all the more likely that Glen Kamara will start alongside Ryan Jack in a deep role.
Further forward, the trio of Ianis Hagi, Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent should be given license to create and relative freedom to roam in attack.
Finally, Alfredo Morelos is set to lead the line. The Colombian international has been heavily linked with a move away from Ibrox but he’s still the club’s main striker and Defoe’s injury has ruled out any slim chance of him being left on the bench.
Rangers Predicted XI vs Aberdeen (A) – 01/08/2020:
GK – Allan McGregor
RB – James Tavernier
CB – Connor Goldson
CB – George Edmundson
LB – Borna Barisic
CDM – Ryan Jack
CDM – Glen Kamara
RAM – Ianis Hagi
CAM – Joe Aribo
LAM – Ryan Kent
ST – Alfredo Morelos