Steven Gerrard has confirmed Borna Barisic’s removal at half time tonight was tactical and not injury-related as the Croat’s yellow card may have played a hand along with his unimpressive performance in Luxembourg.
Normally a booking like that for a fullback wouldn’t be enough to haul them off, but clearly Stevie felt he’d either made a selection error in that area or Barisic was at risk of an early bath as the former Osijek man found himself remaining on the sidelines for the second half.
Barisic has enjoyed a slight renaissance this pre-season, looking a bit more confident with more assured defending – but there’s been a bizarre lack of those killer crosses as the player has either changed his style of play under Stevie’s instruction or has paradoxically lost the confidence to deliver them.
There was another absence of any crosses from him this time, and coupled with the yellow card, Gerrard saw fit to remove him at half time and put Andy Halliday on in his place.
Stevie confirmed this after the match:
“I took Borna off at half-time because I can’t take any risks with him. I have to think of team instead of the individual and it was the same with Scotty Arfield when he got booked. I can’t have any ill-discipline because I didn’t trust the officials tonight. The way the officials were tonight there was every chance there could have been a second yellow and I don’t need that moving forward.”
In Barisic’s defence, Halliday wasn’t a lot better.
Whether this has any bearing on selection for Sunday’s all-important curtain raiser at Rugby Park we shall see, but being yanked off at half time certainly bordered on ominous for Barisic.