Alan Hutton has offered his thoughts on Leon King’s chances of featuring for Rangers in the Europa League…
Former Rangers defender Alan Hutton has suggested that Leon King could be given a chance to impress in the Europa League this season.
When asked about the opportunities King could be handed due to the registration rules in European competitions, he told Football Insider:
“Yes, I can see it happening. I think back to my time when I was playing – you obviously knew of these rules.
“You have to have X amount of young players on the bench, for example.
“I know some people don’t like these rules but as a young player breaking through, it gives you that opportunity.
“You get to see the surroundings and feel what it’s all about – with the atmosphere.
“It stands you in good stead for the future.
“As well as that, you are there to be called upon if something happens to the first-choice players. The manager obviously trusts these guys.”
The emergence of King as a first-team option could solve a key problem Rangers are facing ahead of their clash with Lyon on Thursday. Hutton believes that Gerrard trusts his young players and this could be the perfect opportunity to throw him into the deep end to see if he can swim.
Connor Goldson and Filip Helander both look set to miss out through self-isolation and injury respectively, whilst Jack Simpson was not named in the Europa League squad. This leaves Leon Balogun, who has also covered at right-back this season, as Gerrard’s only senior centre-back option for the clash with Lyon.
That means King, who former Rangers player Mark Hateley said is “going to be massive”, could partner Balogun at the back against the Ligue 1 side. He has already played two senior games for Rangers so it would not be his first foray into senior action, although it would still be a huge call for Gerrard to trust him to perform against a top side in a European competition.
His only other option is to use another player out of position and that could cause problems as they would not be used to playing at centre-back. Whereas King has come up through the academy as a centre-back and will know what is being asked of him in that position.
This is why Gerrard must unleash him against Lyon alongside Balogun this Thursday and see if he is capable of making the step up. Hopefully, Goldson will then be available after returning from self-isolation and King can continue his development in the reserves whilst providing back-up to the first-team. He could solve a key problem in the short-term and it would be great to see an academy product come in and do a job, especially in Europe.