Alan Hutton has claimed the unavailability of Borna Barisic was a “massive loss” for Rangers in their shock defeat against Kilmarnock.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Ibrox full-back suggested that Andy Halliday, who deputised for the injured Croatian, was unable to match the quality of his output on both the front foot and defensively.
Steven Gerrard admitted earlier in the week that the 27-year-old faced a race against time to be fit for the trip to Rugby Park, and he lost his battle when he failed to make the Gers’ match day squad.
Gerrard’s men squandered a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 against Killie, allowing Celtic to open up a 10-point gap at the top of the table.
And Hutton believes that Barisic was sorely missed.
“He’s a massive loss,” he told Football Insider.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve actually seen how much [James] Tavernier was missed, if you like, because of his attacking, going forward, pushing teams back – it’s the same for Barisic. He really stepped up over the last few weeks when Tavernier was out. Everything was coming down the left hand side, all the good play.
“So for him to not be playing, it stuck out like a sore thumb.
“You know Halliday isn’t going to get forward and whip in balls into the box, especially with the quality that Barisic has, so it was a massive loss. I think Kilmarnock tried to play down that side, maybe knowing that Halliday isn’t the strongest defender.
“This is one of those things, you have to step up and take control of the situation, but I just think Rangers were left wanting.”
Barisic has impressed hugely this season, establishing himself as a key part of the Gers’ starting lineup and registering 14 assists in 33 appearances across all competitions.
Wednesday’s clash was the first league match he had missed since the beginning of December.
In other Rangers news, Hutton savages Ibrox player who ‘annoyed’ him ‘most’ v Kilmarnock.