Glasgow Rangers face Falkirk fresh off the back of their draw with Benfica in the Europa League, which means Steven Gerrard’s side remain unbeaten in all competitions so far this season, although they will want to get back to winning ways when they take on the Bairns in the Betfred Cup.
The reliable Ryan Kent has been an ever-present starter for Gerrard’s side, having played in every single game in all competitions so far this season.
In terms of the £7m transfer fee they paid for him last year, it’s fair to say that the winger has been worth every single penny, as he has helped set the club up for potential silverware this season.
However, as much as Kent has been one of the club’s best players, the Ibrox boss ought to be wary of him burning out. The 24-year-old has been in electric form since the international break, as he started and scored as Rangers romped to a 4-0 victory over Aberdeen, but Gerrard is expected to rotate his squad for the Scottish League Cup clash.
After the weekend the Gers will face Standard Liege in the Europa League, Ross County and Lech Poznan before they travel to Dundee United on December 13.
Gerrard needs to use the upcoming fixture against Falkirk in particular to give Kent a break before the game against Standard Liege and the busy festive period, as Brandon Barker has shown that he is capable of stepping in and doing a job against the Scottish League One leaders.
In nine games this season, Barker has bagged two times so far, despite the fact that he has made the majority of his appearances as an impact substitute from the bench.
Per WhoScored, the 24-year-old versatile midfielder, who can be deployed on both flanks, has scored two goals in eight games in the Scottish Premiership this season, whilst he is averaging 1.5 shots per game.
WhoScored states that one of the former Manchester City academy player’s main strengths is his ball-playing ability, so he could cause the Bairns several problems at the back by running at the defence and playing through balls.
The Ibrox boss has spoken admirably about Barker in the past, as he singled the “dangerous” player out for praise after his performance in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at the Govan stadium at the start of the season.
He said: “We hadn’t played at our maximum level in the first 45 minutes but we tweaked the formation, putting Brandon Barker out wide and we got our reward.
“That’s Brandon’s first full game in a long, long time with the injury problems he’s had and not settling in places. He’s earned his chance today.
“He’s trained really well. We played a bounce game against Plymouth and he was really dangerous. He’s showed me that he was ready for an opportunity.”
Speaking to the Open Goal podcast, former Rangers player Andy Halliday was full of praise for the winger, saying: “He’s one of the best trainers. He’s got days where he just beats the full team and scores and I think, supposedly, they played a friendly against Plymouth [Argyle] during the week and he was unbelievable.
“That’s one thing I’d say, wingers tend to be confidence players and he’s never had a run in the team. I don’t think he’s ever played any more than two games in a row.”
Gerrard will be hoping Barker can produce a similar performance on Sunday afternoon, where his key passing could well prove to be the difference in unlocking a well-disciplined Falkirk defence, who have yet to concede in their past three fixtures in all competitions.