Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has insisted that Niko Katic’s omission from the side to face Feyenoord in tonight’s Europa League clash was “just tactical” as he opted for Filip Helander alongside Connor Goldson at centre-back.

Fans were surprised to see Katic had failed to even make the bench against the Eredivisie side but Gerrard admitted he was looking for “more balance” in his back-four.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Nikola Katic of Rangers FC is challenged by Odsonne Edouard of Celtic during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on September 01, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Gerrard also felt it was a good opportunity for Swedish international Filip Helander to come into the side for the game the Rangers boss predicted would be a “technical, boring” affair.

“It’s just tactical,” Gerrard told BT Sports’ live coverage just before kick-off.


“Niko is the type of defender who is last-ditch, anything aerial he’s a beast, he’s great in both boxes. I predict this will be a more technical, boring game so we’re looking for more balance on the left side of our defence and that’s why Helander has got the nod.

“He’s been very patient and we spent good money on him. We feel like he’s ready now and it’s an opportunity for him.”

Helander has been limited in his appearances so far since his £3million arrival from Serie A side Bologna earlier in the summer.

METHIL, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 18: Filip Helander of Rangers celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Scottish League Cup second round match between East Fife and Rangers at Bayview Stadium on August 18, 2019 in Methil, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Katic suffered an identical fate 12 months ago in the first group game of the Europa League when he was axed from the side to make way for Joe Worrall against Villarreal.

Even taking Gerrard’s comments at face-value, Katic not making the 18 at all – while George Edmundson sits on the bench – seems a bit odd.


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