Gregg Wylde: Mistake leaving Rangers man Andy Halliday out squad

Gregg Wylde believes Pedro Caixinha is taking a major gamble by leaving Andy Halliday out of Rangers' Europa League squad.

Rangers' Andy Halliday is expected to exit Ibrox. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker
Rangers' Andy Halliday is expected to exit Ibrox. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker

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Six Rangers players omitted from squad with futures in doubt

The Portuguese boss has given his biggest hint yet that he sees no future for a clutch of his first-team stars after omitting six from the list eligible to face Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn on Thursday night.

Defender Rob Kiernan, midfielder Matt Crooks and forwards Harry Forrester, Michael O’Halloran and Joe Dodoo are all missing from the squad Gers submitted to UEFA ahead of their opening qualifier.

But former Ibrox winger Wylde is most surprised by the snub handed to boyhood Rangers supporter Halliday.

According to reports, the midfielder has been told by Caixinha he is free to leave the club on loan this summer, with the new Light Blues boss looking to trim down the squad left behind by Mark Warburton after signing up eight new recruits in recent weeks.

However Wylde reckons with so many fresh faces still trying to adapt to life at Ibrox, Caixinha is taking a chance leaving out a player steeped in the traditions of the club.

He said: “I would have Andy Halliday in my squad, even if he’s not playing and worth only of a place on the bench. That’s because he’s a Rangers man.

“He knows what Rangers standards are and the expectations which will be on the players at this time of year.

“He has shown in the past he can get the players around him geed up for the big games. Just look at his display against Celtic in the cup semi-final a couple of seasons back. He ruffled up Scott Brown a few times so he knows how to handle the big occasions.

“I know Andy well as we have some friends in common and he’s a great lad. He will be gutted about missing out on Thursday. It will hurt a lot.

“He gives the team that drive and energy, so to leave him out of the squad entirely just seems a bit harsh. That’s the manager’s decision though and Andy will just need to take it on the chin.

“I’ve never heard of the side Rangers are playing but you never know whether it will be a banana skin or if Rangers will go and batter them. So with that in mind you’d think it would be good to have someone like Andy about the squad who knows what Rangers are about.

“You just have to hope these lads that have been brought in from Portugal and Mexico can get up to speed quickly. The likes of Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller are still there but it’s a massive call from the manager.”

Fans turning out for Thursday’s Niederkorn clash are set to catch a first glimpse of Ryan Jack, Fabio Cardoso, Dalcio, Carlos Pena, Eduardo Herrera and Alfredo Morelos.

Veteran Portugal defender Bruno Alves misses the tie, however, as he is still on Confederations Cup duty while compatriot Daniel Candeias is unavailable after his switch from Benfica failed to beat the UEFA registration deadline.

But Wylde claims those who do make their Ibrox bow this week will be in for a shock as they are met by the sight of a 50,000 sell-out crowd.

“Caixinha is bringing his own players in and that will be a big test for him to see how he gets on with his own team now,” he said. “He’s brought in eight players and is trying to get rid of a few.

“It’s a sell-out on Thursday night and the new guys in that squad who have never played in the kind of atmosphere you get when you’re at clubs like Rangers and Celtic will probably get a bit of a fright.

“These foreign lads will never have been in an environment like this.”

This week’s showdown is Gers’ first European fixture in six years.

Wylde was part of the last Light Blues line-up to feature on the continental stage when they suffered an early Europa League exit at the hands of Maribor in the summer of 2011 - just months before the club was plunged into a financial black hole.

That result, combined with their earlier Champions League elimination by Malmo, contributed to the disastrous end to Craig Whyte’s Ibrox reign.

But Wylde admits no-one in Ally McCoist’s squad foresaw the nightmare that was to follow.

“We just never expected things to turn out so bad,” said the 26-year-old, now a free agent after leaving Millwall. “You could write a book about all the things that have happened.

“The club is slowly getting back on its feet and hopefully we can do a better job this term than we did last season.”