With big injuries to Jordan Jones and main man Ryan Kent, yesterday was Brandon Barker’s big chance to stake a serious claim for the jersey permanently by excelling in Perth.
Steven Gerrard elected to start the side we’d actually expected to see against Feyenoord, especially the attacking trident, with Barker and Ojo flanking Morelos, and when Barker got the call he’d have hoped to impress.
Sadly, while he was by no means awful, Barker had nowhere near the impact Jones has or Kent had.
That national poll pegged him as bottom performer for Rangers, and while we maybe feel that’s a touch harsh (it’s close margins in fairness) nevertheless he did very much struggle to beat his man and was unable to produce many telling end products on the rare occasions he was able to cross.
Barker had his big chance yesterday, and didn’t really take it – indeed, more than once he was outright mugged as he tried to run past defenders – it didn’t look like a winger in form, although of course it’s early days with him.
And of course Rangers will be relying on him to improve drastically.
On Wednesday we travel to Livi and unless Stevie decides to revert his wingers to Arfield and Ojo again, Barker will get another outing.
And he really must step up in a way he struggled to yesterday.
We do like this lad’s honesty – he gives it what he has, and he’s admitted he’s not here to make up the numbers but to become first choice.
But it gives some perspective when we look at the immediate impact of Jones and Kent, where Barker by comparison is a bit slow to get off the mark.
His pace too isn’t overly impressive, and that’s something he needs to work on improving as well.
He’s at Rangers now – the biggest club in Scotland. It’s one thing standing out for low-expectation Hibernian (no offence lads) and making a name for yourself there, quite another doing it for the heaviest shirt in Scottish football.
And at this point his performances, if not awful, haven’t shone in the way his peers’ have.
Hopefully Gerrard will stick by him and give him another shot on Wednesday, because we’d like to see this guy as a real option for the left, rather than being a fall-back crutch when others are injured.
Over to you Brandon.