An interesting thing is on the horizon for Rangers fans; a potential refresh and cleanse of a position which gave a few curiosities recently, particularly last season.
While James Tavernier and Jon Flanagan/Andy Halliday were the main three selections last campaign in fullback, going into 19/20 we have a real sense of excitement there.
Not only with Tavernier himself, but the two ‘new’ men who could be making a claim for those slots and reinvigorating the depth and quality Rangers have at their disposal there.
Matt Polster and Borna Barisic start this new season completely anew, and while we’ve covered our hopes over the Croat following what seems to have been a very decent pre-season for him, we’ve not looked at the American quite as much.
Signed for reasons of apparent depth in January, Polster was expected to stake a first-team claim by late February, but injury curtailed him and he was never seen again.
Adept in both defensive midfield and right back, it must be remembered Polter was a huge driving force behind his ex-side Chicago Fire’s excellent form, and his injury in 2018 at RB robbed them of a major player and more or less ruined their season. Polster had been a standout and was on the verge of becoming a regular US international (he has one or two caps) when his career was derailed.
Now at Ibrox, Polster isn’t here to challenge Tavernier, he’s here to play, and he’s going to push Rangers’ captain every inch of the way.
“He (Tav) is a great player who has done very well this season for the club. He has scored a lot of goals and many assists too. He has shown his quality and that makes it difficult for me as a player, but it is something I am willing to take on and, when I get the chance, hopefully I can take it.”
Seems modest, right, but he goes on:
“For me it’s just showing that I can play at this level week in week out in training and show that I can beat out Tav, or beat out a guy in midfield.”
In truth, the MLS is actually a superior level to the SPL, although Polster will never have experienced the pressure of Ibrox. So ability-wise he should be up to it, but psychologically we’ll see.
Indeed, Polster, and Barisic, are effectively like new signings in this Rangers team (something we could also attribute to Greg Docherty too), and it’s superb for options that Steven Gerrard is not stuck between two RBs and an attacking midfielder as options for both flanks. Now he seems to have two proper RBs, three if Flanagan can regain his old RB form, while having Barisic on the left plus the deputies.
It all adds up to a far better state of affairs in a crucial position like fullback, and hopefully, maybe even starting today, both the Croat and American prove just why they’re at a club as big as Rangers.