It’s the big one, the biggest domestic match of this season, as the first cup final of 22/23 looms large between Rangers and Celtic.
It’s all about the Rangers on Ibrox Noise, and trying to predict the starting XI for today is fraught with peril, given the extraordinary mind games manager Michael Beale has been playing the past 10 days.
The boss has been throwing multiple red herrings into the media, throwing fans and press off the scent, and the lack of any training photos from Auchenhowie is quite deliberate.
There has never been a more secretive Rangers build up than this, with an amusing amount of claims and counter-claims about who’s fit and who isn’t – Beale dropped a huge bomb with a claim 5+ days ago that he’d field a similar team to that which started at Livi, but as we know, he is the most manipulative manager Rangers have ever had.
So, where do we start?
In goal, it has to be McGregor, of course. Who else?
In defence it picks itself. Tavernier, Goldson, Davies and Barisic. There’s no surprises there.
But the three in the middle is where the intrigue begins. With all the injuries, and all the alleged recoveries, we simply cannot know for sure who will start, but an educated guess would see John Lundstram back in for his power, Nicolas Raskin in for his pace and intelligence, with Todd Cantwell’s vision and trickery completing the set.
This omits Kamara, Jack, and, yes, Malik Tillman.
Going to the front three, it’s pretty open and shut for us. Kent, Morelos and Sakala.
This means the bench will be potentially brimming with game-changers, tonnes of talent. Unless, that is, injuries have not recovered after all, which would be very bad indeed.
We feel this match will be won from the bench – Beale will either blow it from the sidelines or win it from them – or we could be real lucky and just have a storming 90 in which we clean win the cup.
Who knows. But your Ibrox Noise starting XI:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Davies, Barisic; Lundstram, Raskin, Cantwell; Kent, Morelos, Sakala.
McLaughlin, Devine, King, Kamara, Jack, Tillman, Hagi, Roofe, Colak.
There are definitely options on the bench. Game on!