Rangers are far from their best this season but are still leading the Premiership standings following a comeback victory against Hibernian prior to the international break. But they must overcome the challenge of Hearts, the other Edinburgh outfit, who are the only unbeaten league side so far this term.
These two teams are set to lock horns at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon and the visitors, who earned an immediate top-flight promotion earlier this year, have made their presence known with a victory over Celtic on Matchday 1. Steven Gerrard needs to work on the starting XI due to an array of injury woes and figure out his best possible lineup to earn stability for the rest of the season.
Predicted 4-2-3-1 Rangers Lineup To Face Hearts
Gerrard, so far, has rotated Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin between the sticks. However, the experience of McGregor would be crucial this weekend given the absence of Filip Helander and Leon Balogun at the heart of the defence.
While Helander is already out for weeks, an injury picked up during international duty (with Nigeria) might sideline Balogun for the Jambos test. Connor Goldson is expected to retain his place, but the manager must hand Jack Simpson an opportunity to shine in central defence despite an underwhelming spell since joining from Bournemouth. Skipper James Tavernier should reclaim his right-back role even though teenage sensation Nathan Patterson looked impressive against Hibs. Borna Barisic might once again get the nod over Calvin Bassey, thanks to his experience and set-piece expertise.
Gerrard, meanwhile, is minimizing the dependency on Steven Davis and has tweaked the midfield set-up a bit to add more variation and flexibility. John Lundstram and Glen Kamara are trying to operate as the double pivot from behind Scott Wright, Ianis Hagi and Joe Aribo. Wright is likely to feature from the left with Ryan Kent still recovering from a hamstring strain. Aribo has shown his creative spark in the middle of the park, and therefore, should occupy the ‘number 10’ status. Hagi, the Romania international, fired in a spectacular goal against Germany a few days ago and his presence on the right might provide another attacking outlet versus Robbie Neilson’s side.
Rangers have ample ‘number 9’ options with Kemar Roofe, Fashion Sakala and Alfredo Morelos complementing each other high up the pitch. Although Roofe and Sakala have been away to represent their respective nations (Jamaica and Zambia), no Colombia call-up for Morelos is welcome news for the Rangers boss. ‘El Bufalo’ is expected to spearhead the attack on Saturday afternoon.