Rangers boss Steven Gerrard took advantage of more lenient UEFA bench rules to name both Jay Hogarth and Alex Lowry as surprise substitutes for a Champions League qualifier in Malmo on Tuesday evening.

On Saturday, the manager had bemoaned a lack of wiggle room in the Premiership, with the cap on squad sizes at 18 ensuring he will have to leave high-profile players out of domestic matchday squads on a weekly basis, with Scott Arfield missing out against Livingston.

Rangers v Hamilton Academical - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Arfield has been an important player since Gerrard’s arrival in 2018 but he missed out on the Premiership opener. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

UEFA take a much more relaxed approach, though, as they continue to permit massive squads and five in-game substitutions.

Ironically, a combination of suspensions, injuries and quarantine meant that Gerrard was actually short on options for the third qualifying round first leg in Sweden, with Leon Balogun, Glen Kamara, Kemar Roofe, Joe Aribo, Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos all missing out.

Therefore, the Gers named three fewer substitutes (9) than their opponents (12).

 

However, the extra wiggle room did still provide the opportunity to involve two young players and give them a taste of a high-profile first-team matchday.

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17-year-old keeper Hogarth and 18-year-old midfielder Lowry were never going to be thrown into the action, but their inclusions in the squad was a reward for good performances at youth level.

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Rangers boss Gerrard took advantage of UEFA rules to name Jay Hogarth and Alex Lowry as surprise subs.  (Photo by ANDREAS HILLERGREN/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

Hogarth’s older brother Nicky, who is also a goalkeeper, recently signed for Nottingham Forest after being released by the Gers, but there are high hopes for Jay at Ibrox, while Lowry has a real eye for goal and also made the bench for the opening pre-season fixture against Partick Thistle.

It shows that those starring in the Academy setup really aren’t that far away from the first team and it could motivate them to kick on and one day become permanent members of the senior group.

After the Malmo defeat, the manager delivered a spiky response to a journalist who asked a question about substitutions.

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