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Rangers boss Steven Gerrard would be right to drop Nikola Katic

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…

Rangers entertain Feyenoord at Ibrox on Thursday night and Steven Gerrard has a few key decisions to make, the first of which will be who to start at centre-half.

Football Insider has claimed Nikola Katic is facing the axe after a worrying performance against Livingston, with Sweden international Filip Helander or George Edmundson potentially replacing him.

The central defensive pairing of Connor Goldson and Katic served Rangers well last season, reducing the goals against column by almost half from 50 in 2017/18  to 27 in 2018/19.

The £3.5m signing of Filip Helander could well have seen them both dropped but the summer acquisition has been the one struggling for game time.

The former Bologna defender has played just once in the league, against St Mirren, and also played 90 minutes in the Scottish League Cup victory over East Fife.

Feyenoord dilemma

Gerrard has a big decision to make this week in the centre-half department.

Yes, Goldson and Katic have been playing well but they could not prevent a 2-0 defeat to Celtic in the Old Firm derby and were at odds with each other against Livingston, when the former felt necessary to scald the latter on more than one occasion.

However, this is the Europa League, where the pair have looked imperious, conceding just three goals in eight qualifying games. Impressively, Rangers have yet to be behind in the competition this season.

Rangers now face a step up in opposition, though, and now should be the time for Helander to come into the side.

He is a regular at international level, winning eight caps for Sweden, and travelled to the World Cup in 2018. He has played 60 games in Serie A.

In his two games this season Helander has been dominant, not only that but he has two goal involvements to his name.

His assist for Jermain Defoe against East Fife is what Rangers have been crying out for, a centre-half that can carry the ball out from the back then play a pass to set up an attack.

Who misses out?

It’s already been rumoured that Katic is set to miss out after an on-field disagreement with Goldson against Livingston. But, really, he shouldn’t be dropped because of that. It’s a question of what he brings to the team compared to summer signing Helander.

Goldson is one of Gerrard’s trusted lieutenants – the former Liverpool icon called him a “leader” after their win over St Mirren – much like Scott Arfield in midfield. He is vice-captain too, so, given his status in the group, Gerrard is likely to select him and it makes sense for Helander to come in alongside him.

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What this means is that Rangers would have a more balanced defence. Helander is left-footed and would be able to do what Katic can’t: dribble the ball into the opposition half comfortably on his stronger foot. Katic regularly has to cut back inside to play the ball centrally which can slow Rangers’ build-up play.

The balance of the partnership would also be maintained. Katic loves to attack the ball and press higher up, and Helander is very similar in his approach, so having them play together could leave gaps all over the back four.

Goldson, by comparison, is a more natural sweeper and organiser of the defence.

Obviously, a solid defence is key if Rangers are to have any chance of getting a result, so partnering Goldson with Helander should be something of a no-brainer ahead of a tricky European test.

Article title: Rangers boss Steven Gerrard would be right to drop Nikola Katic

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