Rangers travel to face St Johnstone in the Premiership this weekend as they look to build on their Old Firm derby success prior to the international break.
Steven Gerrard’s side beat their crosstown rivals 1-0 before players jetted away to play for their countries, with Filip Helander scoring the only goal of the game at Ibrox.
They are now set to go up against a St Johnstone team who are yet to record their first win in the league. With four games played, they have three draws and one defeat to their name, scoring once and conceding twice.
One player who Gerrard could bring in to help break down the opposition’s stubborn defence is right-back James Tavernier. He missed the win over Celtic due to a viral infection and is now back in training ahead of this weekend’s match, which means that he could be available for selection.
Leon Balogun filled in at right-back against the Hoops and put in a solid defensive display. He was given a SofaScore rating of 7.2, making seven clearances and four tackles during the game, but he failed to create a single chance for his teammates or register a shot on goal.
This suggests that he does not offer the same attacking threat as Tavernier, which is why the former Newcastle man must be unleashed against St Johnstone. He has already provided three assists in as many games this season, averaging a sensational 4.3 chances created per match.
Last year, Gerrard hailed him as unstoppable when he’s at his best and claimed that he does not get the credit he deserves. The Gers head coach told the club’s official website: “I think Tav is someone who, when he goes through the gears, is unstoppable, and we have seen that, or flashes of that so far this season. I think he is really close to being at his best.
“Tav is a huge player. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves I don’t think from our own supporters or the credit he deserves from outside.”
This highlights how highly rated he is by Gerrard, with his statistics from the 2020/21 Premiership campaign backing up the manager’s comments. Tavernier produced 12 goals and nine assists from right-back, creating 11 ‘big chances’ and averaging two key passes per game.
Therefore, bringing the defender back into the team for this weekend’s clash could win the game for Rangers, as his attacking threat from right-back could increase their chances of scoring. He could come up with a crucial goal or pass to create a goal to turn a draw into a victory, which is why Gerrard must include him in his starting XI ahead of Balogun on Saturday.