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How should Rangers line up in the Old Firm game?

With the first Old Firm game of the season around the corner we take a look at how

Rangers v Celtic - William Hill Scottish Cup Semi Final Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The defence (and keeper)

Callum: Matt Gilks seems to have been a solid acquisition, but hopefully the best thing about his signing will be to get Wes Foderingham to straighten himself out a wee bit. He’s a certain starter, in any case, and hopefully he looks a wee bit more confident than he did last time out.

Whether Philippe Senderos will start or not is anyone’s guess, but assuming Danny Wilson is fit, I think I’d probably just stick with him and Rob Kiernan for now. Wilson has been good this season when he’s played, and having partnered Kiernan a lot, he’ll know how best to cover for his occasional recklessness. The fullbacks, of course, pick themselves.

James: There’s been lots said about our defence in the last few months and I think Warburton will throw Phil Senderos in for his competitive debut alongside Rob Kiernan. I still think that Kiernan and Wilson will be first-choice pairing but Wilson’s recent injury niggles will keep him on the bench. James Tavernier and Lee Wallace will take their usual places at full-back.

In goal, Wes Foderingham should retain his place with Matt Gilks on the bench. Gilks has played well in his appearances so far and expect he’ll feature regularly in cup games.

The midfield

Callum: A hard one here - it’s not exactly clear whether Joey Barton and Jordan Rossiter can play together, but I’d pick them both - if there’s one game where two defensive midfielders are OK, it’s away to Them when we’re distinct underdogs. The question should be over whether Andy Halliday completes the trio - it doesn’t seem to be working, but he was outstanding in the last Old Firm and has been a really big-game player. I suspect that’s what we’ll start with - Niko Kranjcar, Jason Holt or Josh Windass there can make us look a wee bit more balanced, but I doubt any of them are ready to be starting a game like this just yet. On the other hand, here more than ever we could really do with someone to move the ball forwards. This seems to be a problem where there isn’t really any right answer - I’d probably say we have to just bite the bullet and pick Halliday, and make the subs early if it’s not working out. In fact, it should possibly be Jordan Rossiter who misses out if we don’t pick that three.out if we don’t pick that three.

James: Anyone who has watched us this season will see our midfield just haven’t clicked yet and I remain convinced that Barton and Rossiter aren’t capable of fitting into our system together. Both are far too similar and playing both leaves the forwards too isolated and forces us to try play over the top. Josh Windass or Jason Holt would be ideal to come in and provide some energy in the middle but both have been out injured and may struggle to get up to speed immediately if thrown in on Saturday. Then there’s Niko Kranjcar. The big Croat has noticeably improved his fitness in recent weeks and has the quality to make the difference. His goal on Saturday against Linfield was absolute class and hopefully he can grab one like it this weekend.

The attack

Callum: So many choices here, and a large part will depend on whether Martyn Waghorn is fit or not. Barrie McKay is surely an automatic pick, and Joe Garner should offer a fine outlet up front. If Waghorn’s fit, he should start on the right to complete the three - if not, it’s got to be Harry Forrester.

James: Kenny Miller will start (and probably score). I might as well deal with the obvious first. Miller’s selection always brings a groan from some but it’s hard to question his workrate and ability to pop-up with a goal from nothing. Barrie McKay and Joe Garner and likely to complete the forward line although Martyn Waghorn could sneak a place if he can prove his fitness.

Conclusion

Callum: It’s frustrating that this probably isn’t anywhere near our most balanced team due to the midfield problems - all of Joey Barton, Jordan Rossiter, and Andy Halliday have very strong cases to start and none of the alternatives are fit enough to warrant a certain inclusion, even though they offer us a better balance. But we’ve created plenty of chances in our games up until now and not let many against us - with a bit more concentration this team can still function and do a job. Possession alone doesn’t matter for much against Hamilton, but it certainly will at Parkhead.

James: Everyone is writing Rangers off going into this weekend’s game but, if Warburton gets his selection right, there’s no reason Rangers can’t come away with three points. The game will probably come a bit too early for some of the players nursing injuries but it will provide an opportunity for the likes of Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar to prove they still have the quality needed to propel us to a title challenge.


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