Regret will be in the air at Ibrox but Rangers and their supporters have good reason to console themselves

On the evening when their status as Scottish champions is expected to come to an end, Rangers have the welcome distraction of turning their attention towards their pursuit of a piece of silverware which could burnish their credentials like none before.

Scotland under-19 international Adam Devine made his first team debut for Rangers as a substitute in their 2-0 win over Dundee United at Ibrox. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Scotland under-19 international Adam Devine made his first team debut for Rangers as a substitute in their 2-0 win over Dundee United at Ibrox. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

There will still be an element of regret and disappointment in the air at Ibrox when Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s squad play their last home fixture of the season against Ross County.

Regardless of Rangers’ own result, the title race will be offically over if Celtic avoid defeat against Dundee United at Tannadice. The surrender of the six-point lead they held at the top of the Premiership table going into the winter break, turned on its head by their Old Firm rivals who hold the same advantage going into the final two rounds of fixtures, cannot be shrugged off lightly by van Bronckhorst and his players.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet they can still anticipate a rousing reception and send-off from their home support on Wednesday night as the fevered anticipation of the Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville next week continues to intensify.

Aaron Ramsey in action for Rangers against Dundee United's Charlie Mulgrew at Ibrox on Sunday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Van Bronckhorst’s team selection against Ross County – and for Saturday’s last league game against Hearts at Tynecastle – will be a reflection of his priorities as he prepares for a momentous climax to the campaign which sees that high profile assignment in Spain quickly followed by the Scottish Cup final showdown with Hearts at Hampden on May 21.

Just as he did for Sunday’s 2-0 win over Dundee United at Ibrox, which forced Celtic to wait just a little longer before they can formally reclaim the Premiership crown, van Bronckhorst is likely to rotate his squad as he tries to ensure all of his key players are in the best possible condition to face Eintracht.

Finding the right balance between resting players and maintaining their optimum levels of match sharpness can be tricky. As van Bronckhorst observed at the weekend, robust and reliable performers such as his captain James Tavernier and vice-captain Connor Goldson feel they benefit from playing every game of an intense schedule.

But the Rangers manager may be tempted to give Tavernier a night off on this occasion. With 19-year-old Adam Devine having made a solid first team debut when he replaced the free-scoring right-back for the final half hour against United, a first start for the Scottish youth international could be on the cards against County.

Leon King, the highly regarded 18-year-old who made his first start and played the full game on Sunday, will be hoping to retain his place in central defence.

In midfield, Alex Lowry is likely to feature again at some stage after impressing when he replaced Scott Arfield against United, while van Bronckhorst may also want to get some more game time into the legs of Aaron Ramsey with the on-loan Juventus midfielder clearly possessing the quality and big occasion mentality to play a role in the Europa League final.

It remains to be seen whether Kemar Roofe will be ready to make his return against County as the Jamaican international striker continues his battle to recover from the knee injury which has seen him miss the last five games.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Van Bronckhorst’s biggest hope will be that there are no fresh additions to his absentee list.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.