Surprising stat of the day: Even though Rangers have played three more home games than Celtic in the league the Light Blues have only conceded one more goal than Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Now, with that in mind, when Clint Hill was sent off against Aberdeen last weekend for picking up a second booking the reaction of many was concern that the Rangers back four would need shuffled yet again for the visit of Hearts. Rob Kiernan’s performance against the Dons was, arguably, his best since joining the club, and should see him continue in central defence but who should come in and partner him as Hill serves his ban?
The obvious choice would be Danny Wilson. The ex-Liverpool and Hearts defender has appeared fairly regularly this season and should be more than capable of stepping straight in with minimal disruption. Wilson also has the benefit of being familiar with playing alongside Kiernan and will also be familiar with a few of the Hearts players after his spell at Tynecastle. The 24-year-old centre back started the 2-0 defeat in Edinburgh last week and, after missing the victory over Aberdeen, will desperate to put the Tynecastle reverse behind him and re-establish himself as Mark Warburton’s first choice.
If Wilson doesn’t get the nod then that should mean the return of Philippe Senderos to the starting XI for the first time since the start of October. The Swiss defender has hardly set the world alight so far in his time at the club. Two appearances (a win over Partick and a horrendous Old Firm debut) have left fans wondering if Senderos was a panic buy who isn’t up to the demands of playing regularly at anything close to the top level. Maybe he’ll turn it around and prove the doubters wrong and there wouldn’t be a much better time to start than Saturday.
There could be a hint towards Warburton’s thinking in tonight’s U20 fixture with Dundee at Forthbank. Senderos hasn’t played much football in recent months and could be given a run-out to get him as close to match fitness as possible. Wilson has been more involved in the first-team so wouldn’t require the game time ahead of his return to first-team duties.
There is, potentially, one other option Mark Warburton could go with should he decide to mix things up just a little bit. Lee Wallace. After his MOTM performance, and first Rangers goal, at the weekend it would be difficult to drop Lee Hodson but he’s in direct competition with probably Rangers’ best performer in defence this season in James Tavernier. Tavernier’s form has dropped off just a little bit in recent weeks but once Hill was sent off against Aberdeen, Tavernier (who was playing in central midfield after coming off the bench) dropped into his familiar right back slot, Hodson moved over to the opposite flank with Wallace moving inside to partner Rob Kiernan in central defence. Wallace isn’t a central defender by any stretch of the imagination but after dumbfounding everyone, including ourselves, before being vindicated with the Kenny Miller-in-midfield gamble could there be one more trick in the Magic Hat?