Steven Gerrard has placed faith in Brandon Barker, by retaining him in the Rangers squad for the Europa League knockout stages [UEFA.com].
The Gers boss had some big calls to make when tinkering with his roster, especially given this was the last chance to make changes in this season’s campaign.
Jon Flanagan was omitted, perhaps signalling the end of his opportunities at the club, while Filip Helander dropped out due to injury.
Andy King’s return to Leicester City freed up another spot, with Ianis Hagi, Florian Kamberi and Matt Polster coming in [UEFA.com].
There were other players who will be disappointed to miss out though, and some fans are likely surprised that Barker was deemed to have done enough to be retained.
He was preferred over both fit-again Jordan Jones as well as Jake Hastie, who recently returned from a loan spell at Rotherham United.
It’s a big showing of confidence from in 23-year-old Barker, who has been criticised by Gers supporters.
Much of the dissatisfaction has been at his failure to produce in the final third. He scored on his Premiership debut against Livingston, but that’s his solitary contribution to date, with no further strikes and no assists in 11 appearances.
When Rangers have needed a spark, like in the League Cup final against Celtic, he’s not been able to beat players or take the ball on at pace.
Jones displayed an ability to do that throughout the Europa League qualifiers registering several important assists, while Hastie’s prowess in and around the area prompted the Gers to snap him up last season.
Now that the decision has been made, Bears will want to see it justified should the ex-Manchester City man be involved in either leg against Braga.
If there’s simply more of the same, questions will certainly be asked about the call.