Rangers have Hearts score to settle at Ibrox
Rangers will seek to right a wrong at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon when they welcome Hearts to the Stadium in front of a capacity crowd.
It was just 10 days ago that Rangers slumped to a 0-2 defeat at Tynecastle – but that was Robbie Neilson’s team and, with the Hearts’ Head Coach now at MK Dons, Saturday in Govan will see the managerial debut of new boss Ian Cathro,
It is unlikely that Cathro, who was in talks with Rangers before Mark Warburton was appointed, will make many changes in either personnel or tactics.
The Rangers manager is unlikely to make many changes in his starting line-up from the side that so impressed against Aberdeen last weekend but one player who will surely retain his place is Northern Ireland International Lee Hodson – outstanding in defence, scorer of the second and winning goal and deservedly awarded ‘Man-of- the-Match’.
Warburton acknowledged that he has a decision to make as far as the full-back position is concerned.
“I will look at both players. James Tavernier has been an automatic choice for the best part of 18 months and it’s probably fair to say that he hasn’t had the same level of competition in that time. We didn’t have the squad numbers and he kept himself fit, as did Lee Wallace - and both were magnificent.
“Now Lee Hodson has come in who is a top class young player. He is an International and a very talented defender who has bided his time patiently. He was worked hard in training and deserved his chance.
“I believe ‘Tav’ can go to the highest level but sometimes you have to maintain your standards and he knows that.”
There was a blunt assessment from the manager of the Light Blues’ failings at Tynecastle 10 days ago.
“We weren’t good enough that night and sometimes you have a bad performance and you have to put your hands up.
“We were beaten by a team who were better than us last week and we want to redeem ourselves on Saturday, We have to recognise that we were poor at Tynecastle and accept that fact. We lost three valuable points so we want to be better every time we play.”
Hearts currently lie fourth in the Premiership with 27 points from 16 games and are currently on a six-game unbeaten run, albeit four of that half dozen have ended all square.
Goals have certainly not been in short supply when the Gorgie side are on the road with 16 in total in their last three away games – the most recent of which, a 2-2 draw at Ross County, cost Hearts second place in the division thanks to Jamie Walker’s failure from the penalty spot in injury time.
Joe Garner enjoyed arguably his best game for Rangers against Aberdeen and should retain his place against Hearts, even allowing for Martyn Waghorn now being fully fit.
Clint Hill is suspended for this one and it remains to be seen whether his replacement will be Danny Wilson, who played at Tynecastle in the 0-2 defeat, or Phillipe Senderos.
Hill will certainly be missed – he was outstanding against Aberdeen last weekend – but Rangers will be determined to put matters to right following that Edinburgh reversal in front of a packed Ibrox where they last suffered defeat against Tommy Wright’s St. Johnstone some 15 months ago.