Rangers’ line-up against Hamilton won’t be too drastic this weekend, but should Steven Gerrard think of making some sacrifices?
Yes, the Ibrox side need to win in South Lanarkshire this Sunday. Allowing Celtic and Hearts to race away even further is unthinkable as we get into the Winter months. Nothing less than a controlled performance and three points will do a hungry Rangers support.
Gerrard has a big dilemma to take into consideration when thinking up his team this weekend.
Just days after Rangers face Accies, they have another must-win at home to Spartak Moscow in the Europa League. Make no mistake, if Rangers want to have a serious chance of qualifying out of that group, this is a must-win. The Gers are setting the pace in their group, and top it with four points. They’re three points clear in the qualification slots, and have some real momentum behind them.
One defeat at home to Spartak, however, and that will quickly change. It’s simply imperative that Rangers don’t let that happen considering how golden an opportunity they now have in their hands.
What makes this weekend a special case for dropping key players, however, is the astroturf surface. We’ve already seen Jamie Murphy sidelined for the rest of the season thanks to Kilmarnock’s artificial surface. Nobody wants to see the same when Gerrard’s men pitch up at New Douglas Park.
Borna Barisic and Nikola Katic are the first two who come to mind. Barisic remains the first-choice left-back despite Jon Flanagan’s good performances. Katic, however, seems to now have dropped to third-choice centre-back behind Connor Goldson and Joe Worrall.
Both of them have been nursing knocks over the international break that led to them dropping out of their respective Croatian age-levels. Risking either on the plastic pitch in Hamilton should be a no-go off the bat.
Kyle Lafferty is another who has been troubled by an achilles injury that forced him to drop-out of the Northern Ireland squad. Despite the ridiculous saga that proceeded that, Lafferty must be a genuine concern for Sunday.
Then you have three central midfielders who’ve all struggled with injuries this season. Lassana Coulibaly, Ryan Jack, and Graham Dorrans are all recovering/have recovered from recent set-backs. Risking them on Accies’ surface would be unfair on them ahead of a huge clash next Thursday.
Yes, Gerrard has some big decisions to make this weekend. Regardless of who he picks, Rangers will go out with a strong side looking to win the game. For his players’ protection however, it would be wise to rest one or two.