Rangers’ bench options v Benfica are a big concern for Big Phil

Rangers’ bench options v Benfica are a big concern for Big Phil
Rangers Belgian manager Philippe Clement looks on prior the UEFA Europa League last 16 first leg football match between SL Benfica and Glasgow Rangers at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on March 7, 2024. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)

Rangers manager Philippe Clement does not have his issues to seek on Thursday. Rangers are very much mired in a recent-years stand off with Portuguese giants Benfica where neither side can beat the other, and that will definitively change in three days’ time when one has to progress to the Europa League quarters.

But both clubs have their own problems. For Benfica’s part, Roger Schmidt is deeply unpopular, having seen his season unravel over the past 10+ days, with fans already demanding his exit following a departure from the cup, losing their place at the top of the league and then scraping a fortunate draw against Rangers at home.

Meanwhile Philippe Clement has practically an entire XI out injured with only slim hopes that any of them will be available for this massive clash.

The big problem is of course the-now borderline indispensible Dujon Sterling, who has been a gloriously adaptable player the past few months. While his wing competence is hit and miss, he adds balance, power and pace there and he’s filling in for Rangers’ ridiculous wing injury crisis.

Losing him, AND another winger in Ross McCausland on the same night was unfortunate to say the least.

What would we rather have – a few players out injured or fans baying for the manager’s head? Yes, Rangers are probably in a bit of a better place, but Clement’s selection options on Thursday may be a tad limited.

Defence, as always, is fine – everyone is fit. No problems there.

Midfield is also strong – aside Ryan Jack, all options are available.

But attacking midfield, wings, and striker, really really are badly decimated.

In a creative sense we have Tom Lawrence, Kemar Roofe, Rabbi Matondo, Fabio Silva and Cyriel Dessers definitely fit (at present). And that, unless we’ve overlooked someone obvious, is the lot.

Which means four of those five will clearly start, with it likely that Roofe will be on the bench.

And Matondo of course is only just coming back from injury so he won’t last 90, while Tom Lawrence, for now, is holding up with fitness.

Long story short, don’t expect the bench options to be too good on Thursday.

But somehow Philippe Clement keeps getting the result with all this, so hopefully that continues.

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