This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Brandon Barker signed for Rangers on Friday, but there’s no clear space in the starting XI for the often injured 22-year-old.
Signing on a free transfer from Premier League champions Manchester City, the youngster joins several wingers in making the switch to Ibrox this summer. As well as Barker, Jordan Jones, Greg Stewart, Jake Hastie and Sheyi Ojo have joined to provide competition to Scott Arfield and Jamie Murphy.
Barker has signed a three-year deal with the Gers, having had loan spells at Preston North End and Hibs in the past two seasons. Neither spell was massively successful with both curtailed to varying degrees by injuries.
The former NAC Breda loanee has played 78 times at senior level, scoring seven and assisting eight goals in those outings.
The winger was only able to make 16 appearances in the Championship for Alex Neil’s Preston last season. Hamstring injuries kept him out for large chunks of the season, in what is beginning to look a worrying occurrence in a young career.
While it’s still early for the youngster, to have had four different injuries, two of which serious, in as many years might does point towards a recurring problem. It may simply be misfortune, but it’s just as likely that the player is not always doing the right things to get himself fully fit.
Another curse that seems to have fallen upon him is a lack of consistency. It’s a common criticism for lots of young wingers and Barker is no different, with Deepdale Digest describing some worrying traits from his time in the Championship: “Barker showed plenty of flashes, but never enough consistent quality. Add in his injury woes – of which there were many – and it’s no great surprise that he’s been sent back to City.”
A look at his career figures suggests this isn’t wide of the mark either. Contributing to just 15 goals in nearly 80 senior appearances at clubs below the level of this current Rangers side makes for pretty grim reading.
While someone who spent a good amount of time at Manchester City’s academy is unlikely to be a dud, Barker’s warning signs are clear, and he’s going to have to make one mighty impression to force his way into the first XI.