Rangers, the famous Glasgow giants, have been in Celtic‘s shadow since returning to the top tier of Scottish football a couple of seasons back. They have tried out several managerial alterations and roped in a plethora of new faces to restore pride at Ibrox.
Yet the Light Blues have been humiliated by the Hoops time and again in recent meetings but are determined to close the gap once more under new boss Steven Gerrard, the former Liverpool and England midfield icon, who made a winning start to his maiden senior managerial realm against FK Shkupi in the first round tie of UEFA Europa League qualifiers and is set to travel to Croatia now to take on Osijek on Thursday night.
Gerrard is forced to deal with several significant injury woes as veteran midfielder Graham Dorrans is ruled out with a knee strain. Midfield starlet Jordan Rossiter’s injury-riddled spell continues as he remains unavailable through an ankle injury. Veteran fullback Lee Wallace and custodian Wes Foderingham are sidelined due to their respective groin and shoulder injuries whereas new signing Scott Arfield is a major doubt with a knee issue.
The Gaffer, however, has wrapped up 10 new resources and Liverpool youngster Ryan Kent on a season-long loan has been the latest inclusion in order to enhance their attacking flair.
Although injured, Wes Foderingham seems to have lost his place to veteran custodian Allan McGregor who has returned to the Ibrox on a Bosman transfer from Hull City and earned clean sheets on both occasions against FK Shkupi in the previous round tie.
The Gers have a new central defensive pair in Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic who have shown stability as well as offered reliability in the backline. James Tavernier, the energetic right fullback, has been handed the captain’s armband and is set to lead his side against the Croatians. Jon Flanagan, the former Liverpool prodigy, is being preferred over Declan John down the opposite flank due to his defensive work rate and experience of top order.
Gerrard, so far, has opted to field an attacking setup and is likely to retain Ross McCrorie in a ‘number six’ role who will be accompanied by Ryan Jack in the centre of the pitch. Dynamic Josh Windass will feature in a wide role down the left whereas Daniel Candeias is tipped to take charge of the opposite flank.
Jamie Murphy’s loan move from Brighton & Hove Albion has been made permanent this summer and the Scotsman made an early impact by notching the first goal of Gerrard era. Despite being a wide attacker, Murphy is being utilized in a more central role high up the pitch and is likely to partner young Colombian Alfredo Morelos who is yet to rediscover his goal-scoring run of last campaign that, in turn, has left the gaffer anxious following his missed opportunities in first qualifying round fixtures.