Rangers manager Steven Gerrard may have given a big hint about the near future with his admission he doesn’t want to change much from Thursday, inferring the benching of both Joe Aribo and Sheyi Ojo may be significant actions for the medium term.
Aribo, while impressive for Nigeria, hasn’t quite delivered to the same degree for Rangers, although the same point could be easily compared for Borna Barisic and Croatia, and look how that one worked out.
And the newly-fit midfielder found himself on the bench on Thursday despite the famous goal v Brazil, and his start v Hearts last weekend, while team mate Ojo, a recent fixture in the XI, found himself similarly on the outside looking in with a surprise start instead for Brandon Barker.
While we don’t expect Barker to be a guaranteed starter any time soon, Ryan Kent almost certainly will be, and Jordan Jones similarly is ready to return to the first team.
Has Gerrard simply tried to freshen things up for the big trip to Portugal, or is it a bit of a statement to players who haven’t fully performed?
Glen Kamara, himself ill and also not in sparkling form, started ahead of Aribo which was quite a statement from Gerrard, although the Fin may not be available for the weekend.
But one thing is for sure – the manager has started to show a sliver of ruthlessness in dropping two big summer signings who just haven’t delivered. And now Stevie has confirmed he won’t be changing much for Sunday, just ‘freshening’ things up for visit of Steven Robinson’s side, which may suggest only two or three alterations at most.
Whether that bodes for the future remains to be seen, but Barker at the very least did his utmost to take the chance given to him.