Named - Exclusive: Rangers XI for Celtic showdown already decided, pundit says
Steven Gerrard’s mind is already made up on the Rangers team which will face Celtic on Saturday – and that might mean resting players for the upcoming St. Mirren match.
That is according to Rangers fan favourite Alan Hutton, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams about the Ibrox manager’s selection dilemmas.
Rangers are all but certain to be without Ryan Jack, and manager Steve Gerrard will be anxious to avoid risking any more injuries ahead of one of the most important Old Firm derbies in recent years.
The game on 2 January will – remarkably – be Rangers’ tenth in 30 days.
Hutton, who played 122 times for Rangers between 2002 and 2008, believes that the starting XI for the Celtic game is already written in stone and that Steven Gerrard will be confident of beating St Mirren with a second-string team in order to avoid burnout.
He told Football Insider: “They’ve played a lot of football recently. As has everybody, so I do expect them to make a couple of changes. But he will know his starting team for Celtic.
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“I know they talk about taking each game as it comes, but I’m pretty sure if some people need a rest, he will think that he has enough to beat St Mirren and have one eye on his Celtic squad.
“If they’re all fit, he’ll know his starting XI.”
The gap between Gers and Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership is cavernous, with Rangers at a 16-point advantage, prompting Peter Lovenkrands to suggest that a Light Blues win would all but wrap up the title race.
However, Neil Lennon’s side have three games in hand over their rivals and victory at Ibrox would mean that they could potentially move to within four points of the summit should they win their surplus fixtures.