At half time on Sunday at Hampden, Rangers boss Philippe Clement made a surprisingly change when he brought on Scott Wright in place of Todd Cantwell against Hearts.
Now, if you’d have been told in August that a man who was interviewed at Glasgow Airport heading to Turkey for transfer talks would replace the best player in Scotland arguably post-January last season, you’d have been accused of losing the plot.
Especially given the fact that a player much maligned by Rangers fans to-date in the form of Sam Lammers, who had done both little wrong and little amazing in the first half of the League Cup semi final.
Whilst there was perhaps more factors in play on the call to take for Cantwell, such as the fact he’s still not back up to full match sharpness and a yellow card he picked up mitigates what he can bring to a game given his high impact style, the decision proved justified as Wright was fantastic in the second half with his direct running out wide – even contributing a goal to go with it.
As the Scotsman has played himself back into contention, it has opened up debate as to whether the former Norwich man and Lammers work effectively in the same line up.
When it comes to Cantwell, his natural instinct is to come inside to influence the play, which looked effective at points at Hampden with his quick link up with Danilo particularly pleasing on the eye.
However, what this also meant was he quite often ending up occupying similar spaces as Lammers on the pitch. The Dutchman has looked better in recent games, but given what he offered early season playing more out wide, he will have been advised to keep himself between the lines of the penalty box.
This leads to a lack of penetration on the wide flank, which was definitely there for the taking as shown as Wright’s eventual impact.
There is no denying that both players probably could, and should work together, but given the way Clement has identified this Rangers team works best, it wouldn’t highlight either man’s strength.
Now, if the choice was between the two over how’d line up in that Number 10 role, you’d go with Cantwell every day of the week.
That would leave Lammers as more of an impact player off the bench, but does he have the ability to stretch teams late on in games? That remains to be seen.
The other option would be to use Cantwell deeper in the centre of the park, which could work as long as you don’t use him to cover for marauding full backs. However, this would limit his high intensity pressing style, which is what helped make such a fan favourite to begin with.
Right now, Lammers probably has the fact that he’s fully fit and ready to go for 90 minutes in his favour, and if he ups his form significantly, he can give Clement a question to answer.
But for the long term success of the club, there is no question that Cantwell should not only be the favoured option, but the central clog that this side is built upon.