Given the recent injury to Filip Helander, there has been a lot of added expectation diverted toward Leon Balogun.
As the other senior Rangers central defender, the Nigerian international was expected to slot in beside Connor Goldson immediately but that was not the case for last week’s 1-1 Ibrox draw with Motherwell.
On that occasion, former Bournemouth man Jack Simpson was Steven Gerrard’s choice but his selection was not quite justified as he flattered to deceive (as well as the rest of the backline) for the Steelmen’s equaliser in particular.
Rotation has been the name of the game for Rangers, at the expense of the solidity that typified the campaign last season and the defensive superiority the underpinned the title success.
Without consistency and struggling for form, the Scottish champions are still searching for top gear.
— Leon Balogun (@LeonBalogun) August 29, 2021
That man Balogun can hold his head high regarding his recent outings – in his last two games against Lyon and Livingston, respectively, he has been very good.
The challenge and the equation for Gerrard will be whether he can stick with the tried and trusted combination of Goldson and Balogun.
It’s not a matter of faith or ability, but the threat of injury is likely weighing on the manager’s mind as well as the need to give Simpson game time before it is a neccessity to pitch him in.
The latest selection for Dundee looms, ahead of a big Europa League tie in Prague and then the international break.
With Nigeria currently on the UKG ‘amber list’, it seems inevitable that the former Wigan and Brighton man will be called up and depart for international duty next week.
An element of rotation is likely to continue but the form of Balogun is very encouraging – sprung from his exemplary showing in the August Old Firm fixture.
A purple patch, especially now, is to be welcomed and it will be interesting to see just how far he can strive at the heart of Rangers defence.