For the Pittodrie trip, the Rangers manager was without Joe Aribo, but he could, and did, select Alfredo Morelos with support from Ianis Hagi and Ryan Kent. Just over a week later he has none of the trio – all for differing reasons and Aribo is unlikely to be back in time either.
As the Nigerian midfielder flew into Glasgow, Morelos was on the way out – joining the Colombia national squad for games on against Peru Friday and Argentina next week. Kent’s absence via the controversial double booking against the Dons last Tuesday rules him out while Hagi’s season-ending injury against Stirling Albion has withdrawn the Romanian from van Bronckhorst’s plans altogether.
How will the Rangers manager line-up for the visit of Livingston, a re-run of the opening fixture of the season?
Despite the unavailability in attack, Rangers have players returning who were not available for Aberdeen.
Leon Balogun is back and Kemar Roofe has also rejoined the first team and focused on building his minutes – even withdrawing from Jamaica selection to continue his comeback domestically. Scott Arfield is another ready to make an impact while Ryan Jack’s slow and steady rehabilitation is nearing completion. Likewise Filip Helander – so it is not all bad news for van Bronckhorst, though some are more match-ready than others.
Without Steve Davis, Rangers were found wanting and rather rudderless in the Pittodrie midfield and will look to dominate more of the play at home to the West Lothian side.
John Lundstram has entered the fray recently and looks likely to resume alongside first-pick Glen Kamara but the third spot in Rangers’ three-man midfield is still up for debate.
Arfield could be preferred for his line-breaking runs, against a team he has formed against, Juninho Bacuna may be given another chance, or James Sands will be given his first sample of Ibrox on a matchday.
The former seems the most likely, if fit, to add an attacking impetus, though Sands is also a consideration as his role is developed into the team.
all change attack
van Bronckhorst mixed and matched against Stirling Albion in the Scottish Cup but he’ll likely return to tried and tested players for league duty – even though he needs to select an all-new attack.
Cedric Itten’s height will likely see the Swiss given the nod alongside Fashion Sakala’s direct pace – especially if the midfield is more possession focused. Although Alex Lowry impressed against Stirling he will likely take a place on the bench beside Kemar Roofe, who could be used sparingly and gradually in the lead-up to important games including the Old Firm match, when Morelos is absent. They can’t be ruled out of having a say though, especially with five substitutes now permitted for use.
That would leave Scott Wright to take the final spot in van Bronckhorst’s line-up after a decent shift at Pittodrie.
Predicted line-up: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic, Lundstram, Kamara, Sands, Wright, Itten, Fashion Jnr. Subs including McLaughlin, Balogun, Roofe, Arfield, Bacuna, Lowry.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.