For several Rangers outcasts, Hibs is going to be a massive audition for them to face Celtic at Ibrox on Sunday.
Injuries have seriously taken a hit on Steven Gerrard’s squad. As it stands, Jamie Murphy, Ryan Kent, Graham Dorrans, Scott Arfield, and Borna Barisic are all sidelined for the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ side. Added to that, Gareth McAuley is a slight doubt after missing the squad to face St Johnstone.
That could mean the partnership of Connor Goldson and Joe Worrall continues this week. Many won’t want that, but that’s a discussion for another day.
What’s more pertinent is the fact that a couple of outcasts who haven’t received much game-time this season have a real chance to face Rangers’ long-time foes.
First of all, injuries and a lack of standout performers has given Ross McCrorie his chance to step up. He’s now featured in Rangers’ last three matches and performed well. With Arfield missing, McCrorie has really stepped up to keep Rangers controlling in the midfield.
Lassana Coulibaly continues to struggle with form, and it’s given McCrorie an unlikely opening. Before the last three matches, McCrorie had only made 13 appearances this season. He’s contistently played second-fiddle to Arfield and Ovie Ejaria.
Now, however, he has his huge chance to put himself in the frame for Celtic’s visit. Against the likes of Stevie Mallan and Emerson Hyndman, he’ll have his work cut out. But this will be a good barometer of whether McCrorie can step up when counted.
A couple of incredible comebacks
Barisic’s injury was the most unfortunate part of the afternoon against St Johnstone. Rangers won at McDiarmid Park in glorious fashion for the fans. That win, however, has certainly come at a price as Barisic has been ruled out until the new year.
Just as surprising as the injury itself, hoever, was the man chosen to replace Barisic. Lee Wallace was given the nod to come on and perform for a good hour at McDiarmid Park.
Despite the fact that Steven Gerrard has preferred both Andy Halliday and Jon Flanagan in that role respectively, it appears he’s had a change of heart.
Now, all of a sudden, Hibs becomes a huge test and opportunity for Wallace. He’ll likely be up against Martin Boyle, and that will be a fine test of his match-sharpness.
A good performance in his audition match today will surely see him given the nod against Celtic. Previous to the Saints match, Wallace had only appeared once this season in a cameo against Motherwell.
So whilst the Hibs match is huge in its own right, Rangers have two players who could very well be playing for a glorious opportunity on Sunday.