Glasgow Rangers could well be four points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership table by the time they face Livingston FC next Sunday. Steven Gerrard will have had almost two weeks to think about his options when the whistle blows at the weekend.
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So, the Rangers boss probably won’t tinker too much with the back four before the Old Firm derby, providing everybody is fit. James Tavernier and Borna Barisic are safe bets to start, whilst Connor Goldson and Filip Helander will most likely resume their partnership in the heart of the defence. However, Gerrard has other areas he urgently needs to address.
It seems Gerrard still hasn’t settled for a regular starter on the right wing. Ianis Hagi and Jordan Jones have started in recent weeks, whilst Brandon Barker came off the bench to score a goal against Ross County before the international break.
Competition for places has arguably never been higher which means that the Gers boss has some big calls to make. But both Barker and Jones have struggled at times in the Scottish Premiership with neither player managing more than 0.5 key passes per game, via SofaScore.
In fact, the pair haven’t provided a single assist between them at the moment, meaning even Scott Arfield is contributing more in attack, and he’s not someone you should really expect to see pinging in passes into the box. By comparison, Hagi has played 10 games in the Scottish top flight this season, and scored one goal and supplied five assists, whilst he has averaged 1.5 shots and 1.6 key passes per game, as per SofaScore.
He is also comfortable playing with either foot, meaning he can spray passes left and right, whereas Barker and Jones prefer to play with their right feet. Therefore, it’s time for Gerrard to give the 13-cap Romanian international the chance to shine, as the attacking midfielder could be the man to make the magic happen. He has been on the bench in their last two Premiership matches and still managed two assists, so he needs to be brought back into the 11 for the next game.
Gerrard once hailed the 21-year-old as an “outstanding” player after he inspired Rangers to a sensational 3-2 comeback victory against Braga in the Europa League last term.
What better way for Hagi to finally earn his stripes than by starting at Parkhead? His passing ability could cause Celtic all sorts of problems.
AND in other news, Ex-Rangers whizkid Billy Gilmour has thrived since his Ibrox exit…