After their incredible run of form was stopped by St Mirren in the Scottish League Cup, Glasgow Rangers will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they host Motherwell at Ibrox on Saturday.
Rangers beat Lech Poznan to win Group D to secure a seeded place in the Europa League last 32 draw, before beating Dundee United at Tannadice Park last weekend.
But the loss to the Saints stopped Steven Gerrard’s side in their tracks, and with the Premiership clash with Motherwell looming ever closer, the Ibrox boss faces some tough decisions as he looks to get things going again.
Gerrard has admitted some players may have to “step aside” for the time being against the Steelmen.
He said, as quoted by Glasgow Live: “You learn an awful lot about your players every game and I’ll be looking extremely close to see who will react in the right way and if anybody is feeling sorry for themselves and want to take this feeling into the weekend.
“Unfortunately, they might have to step aside because we need to bounce back and react in the right way and try and get three points against Motherwell.”
While we’re not exactly sure which players will lose their places in the starting line-up – though Joe Aribo may be nervously looking over his shoulder after he suffered a shocker at St Mirren – one man who should be in contention to start is Croatian left-back Borna Barisic. After starting and completing the full 90′ minutes in ten of the Glasgow giants’ past 17 games in the Scottish Premiership so far this season, Barisic was benched by Gerrard for the Betfred Cup exit, who may have regretted his decision almost immediately after Bassey gave away a penalty.
Bassey’s relative inexperience outweighed his youthful exuberance, and with an acid test against Motherwell on the horizon, the 28-year-old’s reliability could play a key part in preventing the cup disappointment from festering.
We said just this last month that Gerrard needs to starting giving the 20-year-old more opportunities to test himself on a regular basis, but the youngster was swamped on the left wing as he struggled to overlap with Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent, so starting Barisic in the back four could go a long way towards stopping the rot from seeping into their title ambitions.
After all, it’s the Croatia international and James Tavernier’s partnership that has played an instrumental part in the Gers’ surge to the summit of the Scottish Premiership, with Alex Rae hailing him as a “terrific” talent, while former Rangers manager Alex McLeish admitted he has “exceeded expectations.”
The pair are a sight to behold bombing up and down the flanks, and Barisic’s ability to ping crosses into the box – he averages 2.1 key passes per game in the league – sets him apart from his younger understudy.
Bringing Barisic back into the starting line-up should add that extra impetus going forwards.
AND in other news, Glasgow Rangers must start Steven Davis against Motherwell…