Craig Fowler tries to read Pedro Caixinha’s mind and pick the Rangers starting XI to face Celtic on Saturday.
GK - Wes Foderingham
Jak Alnwick was excellent against Partick Thistle on Tuesday and if Foderingham makes any mistakes on Saturday - he has done against Celtic in the past - then there will be calls for the deputy to take over the No.1 jersey. We’re not quite there yet, though.
DR - James Tavernier; DC - Fabio Cardoso; DC - Bruno Alves; DL - Lee Hodson
Unlike Declan John, who was noticeably hampered by his injury prior to his substitution, it wasn’t immediately apparent something was wrong with Alves until he walked off the park at Firhill. The Welsh left-back also had the injury going into the match and, therefore, is less likely to be risked after the flare up.
Regarding Tavernier, Caixinha would maybe have preferred to play his foraging full-back further forward, but with injuries across the rest of the back-line it’s likely he’ll have to remain in defence.
DM - Ryan Jack; DM - Graeme Dorrans
Caixinha should stick with the 4-2-3-1 and tell his centre-midfield duo that their job, first and foremost, is to protect the defence and make life as difficult as possible for Celtic’s midfield. Whether he does or not remains to be seen.
MR - Daniel Candeias; AM - Kenny Miller; ML - Josh Windass
Miller is a controversial choice because, a) fans had been calling for the veteran striker to be dropped, and b) his replacement Carlos Pena scored against Partick Thistle. It also seems a little strange because the Mexican is a natural midfielder, unlike Miller.
The reason I’ve gone for Miller and the reason I think Caixinha will pick him is thus: in a huge game such as this one, he’ll want someone he can rely on to work themselves into the ground and lead by example. If Rangers line-up as they should, being a little bit more pragmatic, then Miller will be needed for his energy and running. When he’s played up front this season he’s tended to drop deeper at times, so this shouldn’t be too unusual for him. There’s also his penchant scoring in big games.
As for the other two, if Caixinha wishes to stick with the current system or the 4-4-2, with the injuries at full-back and midfield, then they basically pick themselves.
FC - Alfredo Morelos
Barring a late injury, the in-form striker is a certainty to play.