Ridvan Yilmaz is set to finally make his long-awaited comeback for Rangers after current club first-choice Borna Barisic returned to homeland Croatia for the birth of his first child.
The young Turk, who impressed on his brief cameo at the weekend v Raith Rovers, has at long last regained full fitness and is ready to make a much-welcomed first-team start v Motherwell in Barisic’s absence, with his wife’s situation giving Yilmaz an unexpected chance.
And the ex-Besiktas defender will be determined to milk that opportunity for all it’s worth and stake a claim for a real shot at the first team.
It’s going to be tough – the days of ‘Backwards Barisic’ are long-gone and the ex-Osijek man has enjoyed a thorough renaissance under Michael Beale’s tutelage – his defending and crossing have absolutely spiked under the ‘new’ boss and we’re seeing very much the sparkling and vintage Barisic he was under Gerrard.
So Ridvan has it all to do to dislodge the current preference, but that’s exactly what a team as big as Rangers deserves – two top international players, slugging it out for the jersey at their clubs.
What do we think? Ridvan will never be as good a crosser as Barisic, who is probably among the best in Britain – the Croat is probably still second choice to namesake Borna Sosa with his country, but he’s much closer now in competition at that level than he was under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
So that’s what Ridvan faces – but two things the 21-year-old has in his favour are obviously age, and pace. Barisic might not be John Lundstram slow, but he’s no Speedy Gonzalez, and Ridvan is definitely zippy by comparison, so that may give Michael Beale a new angle, to have pacey transitions on the left with Ryan Kent.
But we’ll see how he does should he get the nod on Saturday v the Steelmen, and a good display from him may just give his manager something to think about even when Barisic returns in a week or two from his very important business back home.
Pity there’s nothing like any competition on the other side, eh?