If there’s been one persistent pattern this season at Rangers, it’s that returning players are not generally flavour of the month under manager Michael Beale.
Fans may love, to carrying degrees, Ianis Hagi, Tom Lawrence and Kemar Roofe, but none of them appear especially close to playing under this manager, with Ianis Hagi in particular clearly on the verge of departure.
Lawrence is another one who got better in his absence, and after appearing for the B side yesterday, hopes are high from Rangers supporters that the Wales international can become part of Beale’s side moving forward.
Fellow countryman Rabbi Matondo has eked his way into proceedings for sure, and he too suffered injury last season, but the general pattern is mixed.
John Souttar obviously missed 90% of last season with injury, but is now a mainstay at the heart of defence, so there’s definitely scope for those out for a while to get back into the Rangers’ matchday squad and even XI.
But equally Beale has been manager for almost a year now, having joined November last year and there’s no sign yet that Lawrence or Roofe are to be big players going forward.
Neither was part of either of the Champions League squads for the qualifiers either, and Hagi was in fact axed for his part.
Filip Helander, of course, was just outright released from his contract in May, but of all the injuries, Souttar really is the only one to have made his subsequent mark on the team.
So what now for Lawrence?
Beale prefers his own signings, it’s as simple as that. The only players he endorses he didn’t outright sign himself are Tavernier, Goldson, Souttar and Barisic, who were Warburton, Gerrard and Gio signings. But Tavernier was given the captaincy after Gerrard and Beale took over so he’s a sort of Beale man now.
The rest of the XI is very much his crew – Butland, Jack (he’s now a Beale signing having signed a new deal this summer), Raskin, Cantwell, Cifuentes and of course the whole forward line now, aside from the returning Matondo.
Lawrence will have to wait patiently like anyone else to get his shot, because, unfortunately for him, he’s not a Beale signing and he’s coming back from a long-term injury.
But hey, if John Souttar can manage it…