Rangers coaches are concerned whether Brandon Barker can cope with the Ibrox spotlight after another meek display last night, Football Insider understands.
The winger was given the nod ahead of the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Scott Arfield on the right flank as Steven Gerrard’s side beat Porto 2-0 in the Europa League on a memorable evening in Glasgow.
Barker’s poor performance stood out in what was an otherwise outstanding team display from Gerrard’s men as they moved a step closer to qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages.
A Rangers source has told Football Insider that the coaching staff have no doubts about the talent of the 23-year-old and his ability to trouble opposition full-backs.
He has been making a big impression in training after a knee problem initially held him back when he was signed from Manchester City in the summer on a three-year contract.
But there are concerns over whether the wide man is too “timid” to deal with the unrelenting Ibrox spotlight, something that has proved too much for so many players over the last decade.
Barker was only making his eighth appearance for his new club against Porto, and just his third start.
But there is a clear disparity between his willingness to take on defenders and shoulder responsibility compared to fellow wide man Ryan Kent, who looks born for the raucous Ibrox stage.
Rangers were noticeably more effective and had more bite when Scott Arfield replaced Barker after 65 minutes, with Alfredo Morelos and Steven Davis goals following shortly afterwards on arguably the best of Gerrard’s many impressive European nights.
Ex-recruitment chief Mark Allen was the driving force behind the summer capture of Barker, who he knew very well from his time in charge of City’s academy.
One thing that should be noted is Barker has been signed to play predominantly on the left wing, rather than on the right as he did against Porto.
He made only one appearance for Man City but has had spells on loan at Hibernian, NAC Breda and Rotherham United, as well as at Preston North End, where he scored two goals and supplied two assists from his 20 matches last season.