Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst is facing a huge first game in charge of the club as they take on Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Dutchman takes charge after a frustrating 3-1 loss to Hibernian in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup on Sunday, which robbed him of the chance of winning a trophy early on in his Gers managerial career.
One player in particular who struggled against Hibernian was Leon Balogun. The Nigeria international produced a worrying performance and Van Bronckhorst may take note of this ahead of his debut in the dugout.
BBC Scotland’s chief writer Tom English blasted the 33-year-old defender during the game. He said: “Martin Boyle and Kevin Nisbet have just been toying with Connor Goldson and Leon Balogun. Balogun is having a shocker. On that form he would struggle to get a game for the local pub team. He has been absolutely ripped apart and Goldson is not much better. He’s gone from this incredible leader they had last season to looking very vulnerable.”
This could potentially lead to him being axed from the side for the clash with Sparta Prague. The experienced defender could be in need of a rest to reset himself after his Hibernian performance, so Van Bronckhorst must unleash Jack Simspon as his replacement in the starting XI.
Balogun’s poor display could provide an opportunity for the £3.1k-per-week Englishman to come in and stake his claim for a place in the team. His most recent appearance came as a substitute against Motherwell and he caught the eye with an impressive, albeit brief, showing.
As per SofaScore, the 24-year-old won 100% of his duels and provided an assist in just 12 minutes on the pitch. He also came off the bench against St Johnstone earlier this season and made five clearances, whilst winning 100% of his duels, in 13 minutes.
This suggests that he has the potential to put in a strong performance if given the opportunity to play the full 90 minutes, as he has been solid when coming off the bench. Therefore, bringing him in from the start to replace Balogun could be a good decision by Van Bronckhorst in his first game in the dugout.
Ross Wilson hailed Simpson as a ‘much-coveted’ player upon his arrival at Rangers earlier this year. He said: “His contractual situation at Bournemouth provided a natural and attractive moment for us to pursue Jack’s signature. It has been well publicised that he has been a much-coveted player south of the border but from our first discussion with Jack, we could see how the opportunity to join Rangers was one that was very appealing to him.”
These comments suggest that Simpson has potential as a player, given the interest which was seemingly surrounding his signature, and Van Bronckhorst could help to unlock that by showing faith in him. At the age of 24, he has plenty of time left to develop into a key player for Rangers, and the Dutchman could hand him a huge chance to impress this week…