The signing of Brandon Barker left the fans bemused considering the abundance of wide attacking options Rangers have at their disposal. Although they loaned out Glenn Middleton and Jake Hastie for first-team minutes, the deadline day acquisition of Ryan Kent sent Barker further down the pecking order at Ibrox.
While Jamie Murphy was still struggling to regain his full fitness following a season-long knee injury, Steven Gerrard tied down Jordan Jones from Kilmarnock on a Bosman transfer. The 22-year-old ex-Manchester City prodigy was already in a strange situation within weeks of his transfer to Rangers and had a herculean task on his hands to secure first-team status ahead of Kent, Jones and even Murphy once recalled into the first-team picture.
But the opportunity arrived in the most unforeseen way against Livingston on Saturday afternoon when Kent was forced to leave the pitch late in the first half with a hamstring injury. Jones is already ruled out with a knee strain suffered against Celtic prior to the international break. Therefore, the gaffer might bank on the Englishman for the Bears’ Thursday night Europa League tie versus Feyenoord.
The home debut has been eventful for Barker as he fired in late in the game to wrap up all three points against a headstrong Livingston side. He was brought in as a like-for-like replacement for the injured Kent, and the glimpses of excellence exhibited down the left must have relieved Gerrard ahead of an array of crucial contests.
Should He Be Lined Up From The Start In The Upcoming Weeks?
Although the Gers will be without several key wingers for their European fixture, the manager might still have a dilemma while figuring out whom to be deployed down the left. The versatility of Greg Stewart and Scott Arfield is a boost, but Barker, high on confidence following his late strike, should get the nod.
This is especially true considering the significance of Arfield in a free role behind the attacking third. Stewart has missed out a few weeks of football amid fitness concerns and must not be rushed into action to avoid any further damage.
What Barker Would Offer From The Left Flank
The youngster had a loan stint in Scotland with Hibernian but failed to showcase consistency despite impressing with his pace, with the ball runs, cut insides and crosses. He has all the attributes to be influential from the left flank and should do much better if he executes his expertise with a more organised manner.
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