After a less than impressive display at Ibrox against Malmo in midweek, Steven Gerrard should drop Leon Balogun from his Rangers side to face Dunfermline Athletic tonight.
Gerrard’s men begin their Scottish League Cup campaign against the Championship side at Ibrox on Friday night, hoping to end their run of three consecutive losses.
The Light Blues manager spoke earlier in the week about how he planned to take domestic cup competitions very seriously this season, with Rangers’ last success in the League Cup coming in 2010/11 season.
The 41-year-old said: “We made it abundantly clear to the squad this season that the domestic cups are important and we want to go all the way in both. You will see in my squad selection how serious we are taking the competition, we will be going full throttle.”
Therefore, it seems as if Gerrard will be selecting a strong side at Ibrox despite the lower-tier opposition, and for that reason, he should drop Balogun from his starting XI.
The former Wigan Athletic man, who reportedly earns £12.5k per week at Rangers, struggled immensely in the second half against Malmo in midweek and was definitely culpable for the Swedish side’s second goal. He was far too slow to close down Antonio Colak from a throw-in, and the Croatian turned inside the box before firing past Allan McGregor to give the 10 men of Malmo a 4-2 aggregate lead.
After the game, Nigerian news outlet Punch were extremely critical of Balogun for his disappointing performance, writing: “Balogun endured a miserable night on his return to Rangers starting lineup as the Gers crashed out from the UCL qualifiers.”
It was a surprise that Filip Helander was dropped from the starting XI in the first place after Gerrard described his first leg performance as “Champions League level“, so it seems likely that the Swede will resume his partnership with Connor Goldson, or even one of Jack Simpson or Nikola Katic, when Rangers face Peter Grant’s side this evening.
Regardless of who comes in for the Nigerian centre-back, they will struggle to perform as badly as Balogun did in the second half against Malmo, so the 33-year-old should definitely be dropped to the bench.