One change, Goldson & Tavernier start: Rangers XI Gerrard must pick on Thursday – opinion

Rangers welcome Bayer Leverkusen to Ibrox on Thursday evening in the first leg of the Europa League last 16.

The Bundesliga outfit will be formidable opponents as they boast excellent quality in players such as Kai Havertz – who has 17 goal involvements to his name this season – and Jamaican star Leon Bailey.

Steven Gerrard will become the first Rangers boss in 68 years to go two successive seasons without a trophy unless he wins this competition, in which case he’ll obviously need to overcome Bayer Leverkusen across two legs.

However, the ex-Liverpool captain must do so without Ryan Jack and Jermain Defoe, who are both missing with injuries – James Tavernier is also a doubt with a foot injury and didn’t train on Wednesday.

So, if Gerrard is to avoid that embarrassing stat as aforesaid, here is the XI he should use to give his side the best chance of success…

lineup 54 - One change, Goldson & Tavernier start: Rangers XI Gerrard must pick on Thursday - opinion

As you can see, we think Gerrard should only make one change from the XI which picked up a 1-0 win over Ross County last time out – Tavernier in for Polster.

Despite The Athletic’s revelation that he has a foot issue, it was also reported that Rangers will give the former Newcastle man until the last minute to prove his fitness, so he isn’t definitely out – given that this is the Gers’ last chance at success this term, we think it’s worth risking the skipper on this occasion, even though he was recently criticised after the defeat to Hearts.

Elsewhere, Connor Goldson appears at centre-back, despite being another player who has come in for some heavy slander lately for some lacklustre performances – it was his error which gifted Hamilton a 1-0 win at Ibrox recently, although Nikola Katic isn’t much better and the former Brighton man’s experience in such a big tie will be important.

Ahead of them, we think Joe Aribo – who was praised for his display against Ross County – deserves a start along with Steven Davis and Glen Kamara, as it is important that Rangers aren’t too adventurous due to the away goal rule. If Bayer Leverkusen grab a goal at Ibrox, it will just make things all the more difficult for Gerrard.

In attack, the usual suspects of Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Ianis Hagi will be tasked with scoring the goals for Rangers, although as aforesaid, shutting them out will be more important in the first leg.

A football legend: Can you get over 80% on this Gazza quiz? Find out now…

In other news, Gerrard has been advised to do one risky thing ahead of the Old Firm derby…

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