Within a blink of an eye, Rangers pre-season campaign of 2023/24 is set to conclude with a quick pit stop in Germany against Hoffenheim.
Last week’s three games in seven days at Ibrox saw the side end up with one win and two defeats, with Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Olympiacos preventing more questions than answers with the Scottish Premiership on the horizon.
With time to get minutes into the legs after a gruelling few weeks of training and fixtures, and hopefully the chance to get the skeletons out the system, you’d like to expect that Michael Beale will pick something close to full strength, with most of the starts also featuring from the off at Rugby Park next week.
With that being said, here is Inside Ibrox’s predicted line-up for Rangers vs Hoffenheim.
After surprisingly missing out entirely against Olympiacos, it is a nail-on certainty that Jack Butland returns between the sticks in this one.
In particular in the second half, the defence looked all over the shop in that game, so it’s important that we get in someone who can bring a calmness and reassuring presence in that area, which hopefully Butland will provide.
Robby McCrorie might get some minutes, but don’t expect to see Jon McLaughlin at any point here.
After his shocking display on Wednesday night, I can see any possibility that Borna Barisic starts in this one, with Ridvan Yilmaz looking one of our better performers this pre-season.
Again, James Tavernier selection speaks for itself, with the only question mark being who will start next to John Souttar out of Ben Davies and Leon Balogun.
Despite a less-than-assuring display against the Greeks, I think Davies will get the nod again here to provide that natural right-left foot balance in the back line.
Like with the defence, the majority of the midfield area should pick itself, with Nico Raskin playing at the base with Todd Cantwell to one side of him.
John Lundstram’s dreadful cameo in midweek has likely dropped him down the pecking order for this one, and with Jose Cifuentes not officially joined yet, it will probably be a straight shootout between Ryan Jack and Kieran Dowell.
Dowell has been industrious in all the games so-far which could be a big benefit to Rangers this season, but I think Jack edges this one given his knowhow of the league.
That and the fact he’s missed the last two will mean Beale will be keen to get plenty more minutes into his legs here.
Danilo has arrived, and despite the fact he’s played and scored regularly through Feyenoord’s pre-season, a lack of training ground minutes with his new teammates will mean he will probably start this one on the bench.
Sam Lammers and Cyriel Dessers are nail-ons here to go from the off, and I also think Beale will keep faith once again with Abdallah Sima, with the Brighton loanee showing signs of improvement and sharpness with every passing minute.
Predicted line-up: Butland; Tavernier, Souttar, Davies, Yilmaz; Raskin, Jack, Cantwell; Lammers, Dessers, Sima.