New predicted Rangers starting XI and late team news for Benfica Europa League clash as Philippe Clement mulls over big calls

Rangers are short of options for their match at the Estadio da Luz against Benfica

Rangers are back in European action on Thursday evening when they take on Benfica.

The first leg of the Europa League last 16 tie takes place at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, kick-off 8pm, as Philippe Clement’s men look to bring back an advantage to Glasgow for the return leg next week. Rangers were finalists in this competition two years ago and are in good form domestically, while Benfica – who were thrashed 5-0 by Porto on Sunday – are second in the Primeira Liga.

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Clement is trying to juggle priorities domestically and on the continent, but his hand may be forced in Portugal with most of his wide attackers struggling with injury. “I have five wingers and maybe five of them will be out - that is a bad situation,” Clement said. “It's a challenge and you need to see if you stick with the same system or play players out of position.”

Borna Barisic and Mohamed Diomande could feature for Rangers at Benfica.Borna Barisic and Mohamed Diomande could feature for Rangers at Benfica.
Borna Barisic and Mohamed Diomande could feature for Rangers at Benfica.
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How to watch Benfica v Rangers on TV and live stream

The winger with the best chance of making the match is Ross McCausland, who was forced off in the weekend 2-1 defeat by Motherwell. The 21-year-old Northern Irishman has done light training ahead of the Benfica clash and is contention. Fellow wingers Scott Wright, Rabbi Matondo and Abdallah Sima are definitely missing due to injury, while Lens loanee Oscar Cortes will not be involved, as he is not part of the European squad. Central midfielders Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell are also absent, plus striker Danilo, so Clement’s options are pretty limited.

Jack Butland is set to start in goal once again and three of the four defenders pick themselves: right-back James Tavernier and centre-halves Connor Goldson and John Souttar. The one position that appears up for grabs is at left-back, with Borna Barisic and Ridvan Yilmaz both firmly in Clement’s thoughts.

In midfield, John Lundstram is likely to be partnered by new signing Mohamed Diomande, who has impressed since coming in from Nordsjaelland, with Tom Lawrence stationed slightly further forward. Belgian Nicolas Raskin is also an option in midfield. While short of wide options, Clement must decide whether stick with the same system as he has used throughout his tenure, which would mean Dujon Sterling and either McCausland or one of Rangers’ front men asked to patrol the flanks, or concoct a fresh plan. Lawrence could also be asked to move out wide.

Clement will also mull over whether to go with Cyriel Dessers or Fabio Silva – once of Benfica – as his sole striker should he stick with a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 system.

Predicted Rangers XI: Butland: Tavernier, Goldson, Souttar, Barisic; Lawrence, Diomande, Lundstram, Raskin, Sterling; Dessers.