Rangers (and Celtic) have a major fitness dilemma this Sunday

Rangers (and Celtic) have a major fitness dilemma this Sunday
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 14: David Neres of SL Benfica is challenged by Ridvan Yilmaz of Rangers during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 round of 16 second leg match between Rangers FC and SL Benfica at Ibrox Stadium on March 14, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Obviously this week is all about the Old Firm, and there’s a topic of three significant players whose presence in their starting XIs is up in the air and in all three cases could well be game-changers.

We’re not going to cover Celtic’s pair of Callum McGregor and Luis Palma much, just to say that there’s a real influence there, particularly in the former, and if he is fit to start, we are sure Philippe Clement will have a plan in place to contain him.

Personally, we’d call that Dujon Sterling but that’s up to the boss.

But elsewhere, Palma would be a danger if fit, with 24 goals and assists in 35, so that’s one for James Tavernier to deal with.

But the big topic is Ridvan Yilmaz, Borna Barisic and Sterling.

Yes, we do not know if our star Turkish left back is going to defy the odds and be fit to start on Sunday, and that in itself will leave a massive conundrum.

If he’s fit, great, problem sorted.

If not, which is the angle we’re going with, does weak and Backwards Barisic play in this one, with Rangers supporters far from happy with his being in from the start?

Or, left field, will Sterling cover Yilmaz instead, and offer his power from deep inside the left?

Now, we know how bad Sterling was when used as a left winger v St Mirren – it absolutely didn’t work. He’s a rightie, and found himself lost when trying to play in that attacking role.

But as a left back?

Well, he’s a career right back, and he’s very experienced playing there, so can he fill in at left to cover the Turk?

Is that what Philippe Clement has planned?

We couldn’t even begin to guess.

What we will say is Yilmaz being fit would solve so much for Rangers, because we really don’t want to rely on Barisic or Sterling in that position.

The fitness of a key number of players this weekend really could be the difference.

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