Borna Barisic: Rangers will ‘help and support’ defend after Celtic horror show

Rangers left-back Borna Barisic, pictured in action against Celtic winger Liel Abada, endured a difficult 45 minutes before being substituted in the Old Firm clash at Parkhead on February 2. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Substituted at half-time after being run ragged as Celtic stormed into their winning 3-0 lead in the Old Firm clash, the Croatian international left-back was unsurprisingly dropped for Rangers’ next game against Hearts on Sunday.

Barisic remained on the bench for Wednesday’s meeting with Hibs at Ibrox but was called into action after just 15 minutes as a replacement for Leon Balogun when the defender limped off following a painful clash with Paul McGinn.

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It proved to be a nervous reintroduction for Barisic. The 29-year-old appeared anxious in possession with some of his decision-making prompting groans among the home support.

Barisic gradually steadied himself and helped Rangers secure the 2-0 win which keeps them breathing down Celtic’s neck at the top of the table.

But manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst recognizes the difficulties Barisic is going through and has vowed to give him all the assistance he needs to recover the form which made him one of the Ibrox club’s most accomplished and effective performers since his £1.5 million move from Osijek four years Aug.

“For Borna, it was a difficult game,” said van Bronckhorst. “Those are moments that will happen in your career.

“The only thing we need to do is make sure we give him confidence, we help him. It is not easy. You see when he came on against Hibs, he had to come on at a split-second, which is always hard without a warm-up.

“As the game progressed, I have started to get in the game better. He is one of our players and we support him – not only me, but the other players. We support him to get the performances which he needs.”

One Rangers player currently operating with no shortage of self-belief is Alfredo Morelos whose absence was keenly felt when he missed three league games because of international duty with Colombia.

The striker has come back with a bang, following up his double in the 5-0 win over Hearts with another goal against Hibs.

Van Bronckhorst is thrilled by the adaptability Morelos is now showing in being able to assert himself to the maximum benefit of his team-mates.

“It depends on the opponent,” said van Bronckhorst. “You saw that Hibs had quite a defensive setup with a lot of defensive minded players, so we knew that they were going to get a low block and press us at moments.

“Our objective was to make movements to get the ball to Alfredo and to play off him. He did really well in the first half because when we found him, he had already turned away and tried to find Ryan Kent on the left if he was isolated with the defender, or he could link up with other midfield players.

“We knew against a defensive team we needed runners behind the defense and you need a player who can hold the ball.

“Morelos is doing really well in finding the moments to be available as a target man but also keep his threat in the 18-yard box because that is where he is very dangerous. His knowledge of when to come or when to stay away is getting better and better.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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