Darren Young’s League Two side are likely to face a changed side named by Giovanni van Bronckhorst who admitted he was tempted to rotate his squad for the game – but is keen to have some of the youth players involved if possible.
Alex Lowry and Charlie McCann have been tipped to make the step up to the first-team squad for the game, while Leon King is now a first-team squad member and could be in line for an appearance too.
Michael Stewart criticised Rangers’ bench against Aberdeen on Tuesday however for a match such as this, with 37 place difference in the cinch SPFL league ladder, even the back-up options of the Scottish champions appear too strong to slip up.
However van Bronckhorst will be guarded in a competition Rangers have not won since 2009, so a degree of consistency can also be expected.
The manager said the game was “a chance for me to rotate my squad a little, it is nice to be able to do that and give players minutes who need them on their comeback from injury or how haven’t played much in recent weeks and months”, which indicates changes are afoot.
Leon Balogun is confirmed as being involved, as is Kemar Roofe as both make comebacks from injury. Balogun’s inclusion from the start could open several options for resting James Tavernier, a centre-half or even Borna Barisic by reverting Calvin Bassey to left-back.
Leon King is another defensive option being considered but maintaining an element of consistency in front of the probable change of goalkeeper and avoiding an upset make the youngster’s appearance more likely from the bench.
While options are returning elsewhere, in the middle Rangers look a little stretched without Scott Arfield, Steven Davis and Ryan Jack. The creative element that Joe Aribo would usually bring was missing against Aberdeen and the midfielder’s AFCON duties with Nigeria could create a space for Juninho Bacuna to add some much-needed minutes and show what he can do.
The same goes for James Sands after his baptism of fire on Tuesday. John Lundstram could also gain game-time and allow a brief rest for Glen Kamara amidst a tough league run.
The options up front for Giovanni van Bronkhorst are plentiful – but that won’t always be the case in the coming weeks.
Alfredo Morelos’ call-up and Ryan Kent’s impending suspension will limit his forward-line – but not yet. Calling back Cedric Itten from loan in Germany gives an outlet Rangers don’t otherwise have and his style could suit facing Stirling, and the Swiss could equally benefit from the game time. Throw in Fashion Sakala’s pace and it’s easy to see a new look attack minus the usual Ianis Hagi, Kent and Morelos.
Kemar Roofe will need to be match sharp for Morelos’ absence but given his injury history, a shift off the bench could be forthcoming as he eases his way back in, and Scott Wright’s performance at Pittodrie more than merits a re-selection and more minutes – particularly if backed by Tavernier in a consistent defence.
Predicted line-up – Rangers: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey, Sands, Lundstram, Bacuna, Wright, Itten, Sakala. Subs: Roofe, Lowry, King.