Predicted Rangers team to play Celtic as Philippe Clement rolls dice on several players, Dujon Sterling position and huge John Lundstram call

The Ibrox boss has a far from straightforward job on his hands with team selection

Rangers manager Philippe Clement does not have his selection issues to seek ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.

The Gers boss has juggled with team selections in recent months due to injuries, with Leon Balogun, John Souttar, Tom Lawrence, Borna Barisic, Connor Goldson, Oscar Cortes, Rabbi Matondo and Danilo missing last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle. On the flip side, Abdallah Sima and Ridvan Yilmaz got some more minutes after returning from injury, while Ryan Jack is also fit again and John Lundstram is back from a two-game suspension, but the Belgian has many headaches ahead of the final Old Firm game of the season.

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Goalkeeper is nailed down, however. Jack Butland will take his place in goal as the undisputed No 1 at Ibrox and will no doubt have a big part to play against Celtic. Ahead of him in defence is less certain. Captain James Tavernier will be at right-back and Ben Davies will take one of the centre-half slots. Who plays next to him us up for debate. Young Leon King slotted in against Hearts last weekend and will play if either Balogun or Souttar, who are fighting to be fit, fail to make it. Goldson will not feature. At left-back, young Robbie Fraser will need to slot in at left-back should either Yilmaz or Barisic be ruled out, with the former said to have “tears in his eyes” earlier this week due to his injury situation.

Dujon Sterling's position against Celtic is one of the big calls facing Philippe Clement.Dujon Sterling's position against Celtic is one of the big calls facing Philippe Clement.
Dujon Sterling's position against Celtic is one of the big calls facing Philippe Clement.

Mohamed Diomande is expected to start in one of the deeper midfield roles and despite Lundstram’s red card in the last Old Firm match, it is likely the Liverpudlian will be selected alongside him. While some supporters have given up on the player after that mistake against Celtic and the fact he is set to leave for free in the summer, he has become a key player for Clement and his experience and physicality will be required against Callum McGregor and Co. If left out, Nicolas Raskin could come in or Dujon Sterling may be deployed in midfield. Jack, who is back to full fitness after months injured, could be a wildcard pick in midfield and would offer more defensive protection,

Sterling’s position is an interesting one. The physical and impressive 24-year-old can play either at left-back, in midfield or wide right. Clement may be tempted to use him in midfield alongside Diomande and Lundstram to compete fully with Celtic’s three-man midfield, which has dominated recent derbies. If that is the case, Todd Cantwell would be the man to make way, meaning Rangers would lose an element of creativity and unpredictability.

In attack, Cyriel Dessers will lead the line and will be flanked on the left by Wolves loanee Fabio Silva, who will be playing his last game for the club. On the right, should Sima be anywhere near full fitness, then Clement will be tempted to start one of his most proficient attackers. But if his appearance is to come from the bench and Sterling is kept in a wide berth, then Cantwell could be played wide right, or more natural wing options Ross McCausland and Scott Wright could be deployed.

Clement has much to ponder over the next 24 hours.

Predicted Rangers team to play Celtic: Butland; Tavernier, Balogun, Davies, Yilmaz; Diomande, Lundstram, Sterling; McCausland, Dessers, Silva.



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