Rangers return to league business this Saturday with the visit of in-form Livingston, and there are a significant number of subplots for Rangers as Gary Holt’s men arrive in Govan.
Ibrox Noise takes you through some of the facts and talking points for this weekend’s welcome return to domestic football.
Ryan Hardie. He might not be at Livingston any more, but the ghost of the Hardie saga between the clubs lives on, never forgetting Gary Holt’s abject desperation to hold onto the striker and Rangers toing and froing about their intentions with him. We can’t help feel Livi would have been a better team for Hardie to grow up at and develop at than Blackpool, where he barely gets a game. But que sera sera. Instead Livi have relied on Lawless, Dykes and Pittman to get the goals this term having lost out on Hardie’s reliable 15 goals in 39 appearances between Championship and SPL. It’s quite a hole but they’re managing to fill it.
Unbeaten. Livi are the only side in the SPL aside Celtic to not have been beaten this season and that excellent start has them at a lofty third in the table. Sure, they did only play some pretty cannon fodder SPL sides like bottom-feeding St Johnstone and St Mirren, but you can only perform against who you play, and Holt’s men have.
Ryan Jack. There are big doubts about Jack’s fitness, and after Rangers’ recent struggles in the SPL Steven Gerrard will want all his big hitters available for this one. With Europa League action only five days later, Jack’s fitness is imperative to overcome decent sides like Livi, but it’s 50/50 after the Scotland international withdrew from the national camp with a knee injury.
Livi will be no pushovers. They’ve not beaten anyone decent and Rangers represent by a distance their toughest challenge this season, but Holt has them well-drilled and they’ll play the stuffy, tight and claustrophobic football they did last season and a shock win for them has them in second place alone. It’s quite a carrot and Steven Gerrard will be well aware the guests will be well up for it.