Rangers attacking options evaluated as Kemar Roofe gave the edge to fill the void of Alfredo Morelos

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s options for next month’s trip to Parkhead became a little clearer on Sunday night.

It’s fair to say that the Dutchman would have had worse nights to learn that two of his key men will be available for selection.

Joe Aribo’s Africa Cup of Nations exit frees the Nigerian for the Old Firm derby, while Kemar Roofe also opted to skip Jamaican duty to help Rangers in their title fight.

Aribo, if fit, is a sure starter for the Light Blues as he is arguably the best player in the Scottish Premiership this season.

However, Roofe’s availability could also be key with Alfredo Morelos ruled out due to his international commitments with Colombia.

Roofe made his first appearance since the Europa League deadlock against Lyon on 9 December when he came off the bench in a 4–0 Scottish Cup win over Stirling Albion.

Cedric Itten started the fourth round tie at Ibrox in his first appearance since returning from loan in Germany.

Itten scored a goal, but former Rangers full-back Richard Foster, who works for BBC radio on the game, believes Roofe still represents Van Bronckhorst’s best option up front.

The Swiss did not impress him much and Foster said: “He needs to realize that he is the focal point of his attack and the main striker.

“Sometimes he swerves deep and goes outside the area, he only plays in the middle of the field, he plays in the middle of the goals.

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“Most of the time, just pin down the defender and be a wall, a rebound pass for your teammates.

“You could see Roofe doing it when he came in and to be fair to Itten, he did better in the second half.

“Just being in and around the box and having a real desire to go and score goals.

“Luckily for him, he got his goal and it was a pretty decent little finish.

“He returns to the club after having only been a substitute for Steven Gerrard.

“He will have a point to prove and he will come back, he scored his goal and he can say to the coach ‘While Alfredo Morelos is out, why not use me upstairs?’

“But he still has to do more to get ahead of Roofe, but there’s definitely quality there, he just has to show it more regularly.”

It was a night that many fringe men, notably Brandon Barker and Jack Simpson, missed their big break.

But Foster reckons that Fashion Sakala, another on the scoresheet, gave his manager a lot to think about moving forward with newcomer Alex Lowry.

And with Ianis Hagi limping ahead of Livingston’s visit this week, Foster said: “Sakala could be an option.

“We don’t know how serious Hagi’s injury is. I prefer Sakala to Hagi. They both have quality but Sakala’s rhythm is tipping me.

“Livingston will sit down and you have to take them down and Sakala’s cunning is an option and he did himself a huge favor.

“Sakala has a rawness and unpredictability that I like. I still think he could sometimes offload the ball a little faster if he doubles down and beats teams with a little bit of movement.

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“He did it for his goal: he fell short, he ran from behind and the defenders can’t live with that rhythm, which he took very well after an excellent pass from Bacuna.

“He was the one that at the beginning of the game looked like he was trying to pick up the pace for the Rangers and make things happen.

“It was helped when Lowry came in and the general pace was better in the second half and they moved the ball faster in the forward areas.

“You don’t know what you’re going to find and ‘I almost like that about him. He can beat three or four players and is usually composed facing the goal”.


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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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