If one thing stood out for Rangers this preseason, it was the impeccable cameo of low-expectation Dujon Sterling, whose nomadic career in lower league football didn’t point towards a marquee addition in the slightest.
And yet his 20-minute appearance v Hoffenheim screamed of everything first choice right back James Tavernier isn’t:
Studious, solid, positionally robust, careful, and defensively aware.
In short, an £800,000 signing from Chelsea may actually be a hell of a lot better than Rangers current captain in that position, which, in fairness, isn’t hard.
Tavernier has had a truly pitiful preseason – despite nicking a couple of penalties or two, we’ve rarely seen him cut a more dispirit or hapless figure, opening the door at the back repeatedly for all opponents to plunder with painful ease.
The number of times Rangers have been exposed from his side and conceded is just disgraceful, and there are murmurs a change in captaincy might not be far off, watch this space on that one.
But it’s his basic performances which have been so ghastly.
Enter Sterling. The ex-Chelsea lad really stood out, for being everything Tav isn’t – and the defence INSTANTLY looked more solid as soon as he was on.
He was capable of attacking too, yes, but it was his positioning, his shape, his holding the defensive line when needed that stood out.
Ibrox Noise had zero expectations for this kid, given his journeyman career and age, but his appearance surprised and impressed us.
Was it just that we’re so used to the gung-ho cavalier carelessness of Tavernier that having a solid RB who actually knew how to defend was a novelty?
Yes, Sterling probably isn’t quite Dani Alves in his pomp (probably a morally bad example but you get the point) but he’s already a damn sight better than modern Tavernier.
Is there chance Sterling will start at Killie?
If Michael Beale wants to shore his defence up, yes, there is.