Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has heaped praise on both Joe Aribo and Brandon Barker for their performances in pre-season [Rangers FC Twitter].
The Gers recorded four wins in fixtures earlier this month against Lyon, Nice, Motherwell and Coventry as players got minutes in the legs ahead of the new season.
Aribo was the standout performer across the games linking play well in forward areas and showing real prowess in the box, while Barker earned major praise from Bears for the impact he made off the bench, especially against Lyon.
With the league opener against Aberdeen now just a day away, Gerrard has placed on record just how pleased he was with the two players he brought in from English clubs last summer.
“During pre-season, we have been very consistent,” said Gerrard [Rangers FC Twitter]. “Joe Aribo has been stunning, defensively we have looked solid and looked threatening going forward.”
“Brandon Barker was looking great and a real threat during these matches also.”
🎙️ SG: During pre-season, we have been very considerate. Joe Aribo has been stunning, defensively we have looked solid and looked threatening going forward. Brandon Barker was looking great and a real threat during these matches also.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) July 31, 2020
These words from Gerrard should provide a real confidence boost to two players who had tough first seasons in Glasgow.
Aribo made a whopping 48 appearances in all competitions and showed real promise on occasion with silky footwork and big goals. Yet, when things went wrong for the Gers – particularly following the winter break – he received a lot of criticism for being on the periphery of games.
It was a different story altogether for Barker, though. The 23-year-old started well, netting a fine goal against Livingston on his league debut, but he otherwise struggled to impress and made just 12 appearances in all competitions.
After Gerrard’s praise, both players will be hoping to feature at Pittodrie on Saturday, with Aribo almost certain to make the starting XI and Barker more likely to be named on the bench.