Steven Gerrard ready to unleash 'major talent' for Rangers against Livingston

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is poised to hand Juninho Bacuna his first starting appearance for the Scottish champions as they look to fully ignite their spluttering early season form.

Juninho Bacuna made his debut for Rangers as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw against Motherwell at Ibrox. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Bacuna finally made his debut for Rangers, a month after joining the club from Huddersfield Town, as a substitute in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Motherwell in the Premiership at Ibrox.

The 24-year-old Dutch-born Curacao international attacking midfielder impressed during his 20-minute cameo and is now firmly in contention for a place in Gerrard’s starting line-up for Wednesday night’s Premier Sports Cup quarter-final at home to Livingston.

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Amid his frustration at dropping two points against Motherwell, Gerrard praised Bacuna’s contribution and explained why his involvement in his plans had been delayed.

“He’s looking more and more ready now,” said Gerrard. “When he came in, we knew he hadn’t had a pre-season. He was training alone at Huddersfield.

“He’s got major talent. You could see some of the positions he picked up (against Motherwell), some of the little combinations he’s looking for.

“Okay, he might be looking at me and thinking ‘I want more game time’, which is a good place to be in.

“There’s going to be an opportunity for him very soon because he’s looking more ready now than when he first came. He’s fitter, he’s more robust and he knows a little bit more about our style and how we want to play now. So I think more opportunities for him are imminent.”

Bacuna’s chance to stake a claim for a regular place in the Rangers side comes as Gerrard looks to adjust to the absence of key attacker Ryan Kent who will be sidelined until after the next international break in October with the hamstring injury he sustained in last week’s Europa League defeat against Lyon at Ibrox.

Uncertainty still surrounds when Gerrard will be able to welcome back arguably his most creative player, Ianis Hagi, as the Romanian playmaker goes through the required protocols after testing positive for Covid-19 while away on international duty earlier this month.

But striker Alfredo Morelos, whose slight hamstring issue restricted him to a substitute appearance against Motherwell, should return to the starting line-up against Livingston.

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