Rangers are back at Ibrox for the second time in five days as the build-up to the new Scottish Premiership campaign continues with the visit of German outfit Hamburg.
Tuesday night’s match with Newcastle United provided a fascinating test for Michael Beale’s side up against a team set for Champions League football this season.
Whilst Hamburg won’t be up to the same standard as the Eddie Howe’s high flyers, the desired outcome remained largely the same – getting minutes in the legs of the players at this early stage of pre-season and finding the right tune and formation that will get the best out of them in the yera to come.
And with five players making their debuts, or re-debuts in the case of Leon Balogun, there is a chance that another one or two could have their first run-out in front of the home support, with a couple others in line to make their long awaited returns from injury layoffs.
With that being said, here is the Inside Ibrox predicted lineup for Rangers against Hamburg.
Whilst the Newcastle game was all about Allan McGregor and his swansong testimonial appearance, Saturday will see the first start for new Number 1 Jack Butland.
The Englishman did play the majority of Tuesday’s night match having come on late in the first half, and with the former Stoke expected to be the first choice for years to come, it’s a no brainer to give him the starting berth here.
Robby McCrorie would normally be a contender to start normally, but with him stating his intention to leave the club this summer for regular football, that looks unlikely now.
The right side of defence still picks itself. James Tavernier is a guaranteed starter for the large majority of any games for Rangers regardless of the competitiveness, and that includes this match, especially with new arrival Dujon Sterling not due to return to training until early next week.
Next to him will be John Souttar, who continues to grow in a Rangers shirt every time he plays, and having been the pick of the back line against Newcastle, will look to show again that he is the top choice to partner Connor Goldson this season.
On the left, Borna Barisic struggled greatly on Tuesday, being targeted all night long, so Ridvan Yilmaz is a certainty to come in, and after looking solid in his 45 minute showing in midweek, Leon Balogun should make his first start of his second Ibrox spell
It’s not often you end up the best player in your team in a game when you only play the last half hour, but that’s exactly what Nico Raskin was on Tuesday, so expect him to start at the base of the midfield as Beale will look to inject pace into his team at this crucial point in pre-season.
To one side of him will likely be Todd Cantwell, with the pairing having struck up a telepathic relationship on-and-off the pitch having both arrived in January.
It’s in the other midfield spot where Beale could throw in a wildcard selection in the form of Ianis Hagi. The Belgium looked sharp
when brought on in the deeper position against Newcastle, so expect his manager to reward him with longer game time in the role to prove it wasn’t a one-off display.
One player fans will love to see take to the pitch is Tom Lawrence, who Beale said mid-week could feature to some degree having been out since September. Given such a layout, the Welshman’s chances of starting are next-to-none, but he could get a 10-15 run-out towards the end.
Having scored his first goal for the club on Tuesday, Sam Lammers should get another chance to showcase his abilities to the Ibrox faithful. That night, he started off wider out on the right, but expect him to play more centrally in the Number 10 role.
Ahead of him, it should be the hotly anticipated debut appearance of Cyriel Dessers following his arrival in the summer from Cremonese. The Nigerian comes in with lofty expectations on his shoulders to provide the high goal return Rangers have lacked in years, so the fans will be keen to see just what strengths he offers early on here.
Next to him, it could be a straight toss-up between Abdallah Sima and Fashion Sakala, despite the latter being strongly being linked with a move away. For the purposes of freshening the team up a bit from Tuesday, I believe the Zamabian will get the nod here.
Like Lawrence earlier, another set to return from the sidelines here is Kemar Roofe, and let’s hope if he does get some minutes, then he doesn’t end up immediately back on the treatment table.