Mark Warburton knew well in advance of this semi final that wingers Michael O’Halloran and Billy King (on loan from Hearts) were cup-tied. However, following the Petrofac victory over Peterhead, the Magic Hat has also been denied the services of his in-form attacker Harry Forrester, a player who is equally adept in the space behind the strikers, midfield, or on the wing.
His goals have also catapulted him into the limelight recently, and with the hairline fracture he sustained last Sunday, his absence is a big hole. Rangers were already reeling with the long-term loss of striker Martyn Waghorn, but had managed to accommodate that regardless.
But the deficit suffered by another injury really is quite a punch in the guts, and thus the question has to be posed; who replaces Harry Forrester?
Names banded around include Nicky Law, Dean Shiels, Nicky Clark and even David Templeton.
Law could certainly fit into midfield, letting auxiliary DM Andy Halliday go back to his natural attacking position to replace Forrester, but many are wary of the former Motherwell man and questions remain over his attitude.
Shiels struggles as a starter, but has impact as a sub – therefore he probably will not be considered. Clark’s goalscoring is reasonable, but his all-round game lacks quality, and it would be a surprise to see him in the XI on Sunday. And David Templeton’s long-term disappearance, apart from some light training and club promotional events suggests he would be a massive shock if installed as a starter.
There is also the concept of Gedion Zelalem, but while midfield itself is not too much of a problem, the conundrum of the trinity up front is an unenviable puzzle for Warbs to have.
It really is quite a selection headache – does he even alter the formation to accommodate different players in the absence of so many of his key men?
As such, I am not going to profess to know anything like as much as Mark Warburton, and subsequently will throw it open to the readership; who would you replace Harry Forrester with? This does not take into consideration any alterations in formation or switches in player position (some of which are discussed above) – just the personnel exchange.