Rangers best starting XI v Progres Neiderkorn

OPINION

Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha’s first test of the new season will see him take on Luxembourg side Progres Niederkorn in their Europa League qualifier on Thursday.

The Portuguese manager has already had a busy summer, bringing in no less than eight new signings as he looks to overhaul the playing squad at Ibrox during his first transfer window at the club.

Thursday’s clash at Ibrox will be his first chance to blood in his new arrivals, and it seems that many will be given the chance to prove themselves after the boss exiled a number of former first team names from the 30 man squad, while Barrie McKay will not appear despite his inclusion.

However, Caixinha should be wary of freezing out so many experienced stars, with history showing that new signings might not always have the immediate impact that is desired.

Rangers fans will be furious if they do not see their side cruise past their Luxembourg opponents over the two legs, so will be hoping that their new stars can rise to the occasion, although they will be missing Daniel Candeias and Bruno Alves.

Here, This is Futbol picks out the best starting XI available to Caixinha, including five new arrivals and one player who has been axed from the first team squad in a classic 4-4-2 formation:

Wes Foderingham, 26 – Goalkeeper

Likely to be Pedro Caixinha’s first choice stopper, barring any new arrivals, the 26-year-old was missing for the Gers final game of the 2016/17 season, with Jak Alnwick getting the nod in the 2-1 away win over St Johnstone instead.

However, Foderingham should return to the starting XI in what could prove to be an important tie for the club, with a Europa League place at stake should they progress through the qualifying rounds.

His experience at the back will prove to be crucial, as he looks to marshal his defence and command his box with authority.

He made 43 appearances last season, keeping 15 clean sheets, and he will be hoping for another on Thursday.

James Tavernier, 26 – Right Back

Another firm favourite of the Gers manager, Tavernier currently has very little competition for the right back slot at Ibrox, with Lee Hodson being the only other recognised player who operates in the same role.

However Tavernier has proven himself to be the best option to Caixinha, the former Newcastle man establishing himself as a first team feature last season having made 44 appearances.

His defensive capabilities are complemented by his attacking threat down the flank, as he uses his natural pace and crossing ability to be a constant thorn in the sides of opponents.

His position in the side may come under threat if there are any new arrivals at the club, but for now, he should be feeling pretty confident about holding his spot in the starting XI.

Fabio Cardoso, 23 – Centre Back

The former Vitoria Setubal defender is the first new signing to make it onto this list, with the 23-year-old likely to be desperate to prove himself to his new boss.

The former Benfica youngster seemingly impressed during his one season at Vitoria, making 27 appearances before securing a move over to Glasgow.

A natural centre back, Cardoso is also able to play on the left of the defence, and his versatility will prove useful to Caixinha during the long and arduous season ahead.

He should replace youngster David Bates in the side, who endured a difficult end to the season after being thrown into the first team reckoning after injuries forced the manager’s hand.

Danny Wilson , 25 – Centre Back

It is likely that manager Caixinha will turn to his fellow countryman Bruno Alves when he returns from international duty, but with the experienced centre back out of the picture, it should be Danny Wilson who steps up to the plate.

As previously stated, David Bates failed to prove himself as a worthy first team starter in his appearances last season, and with the need for some experience at the heart of the defence, the 25-year-old is the best option available.

He made 22 league appearances for Rangers last season, as injuries and the form of Clint Hill meant his first team opportunities were limited.

However, it looks unlikely he will be exiting the club this summer, and as such this is the perfect time to start building a partnership with fellow defender Cardoso.

Lee Wallace, 29 – Left Back

Scotland international and club captain Lee Wallace will almost certainly be Pedro Caixinha’s first name on the team sheet – if for no other reason than the club have a severe lack of recognised left backs.

Out due to a stomach muscle injury at the end of last season, he appears to have recovered from the operation and will be raring to lead his side to Europa League victory on Thursday.

One of the most experienced players on Rangers’ books, he has made 252 appearances in total for the club, scoring 25 goals and contributing 57 assists during his time at Ibrox.

Barring injury or suspension, Wallace is likely to be a fixture in future line ups for Rangers this season.

Barrie McKay, 22 – Right Wing

Reportedly axed from the first team squad and told to train with the U20s, McKay can be left feeling aggrieved at his omission from the Europa League clash.

With Daniel Candeias set to miss out as a result of paperwork issues, the 22-year-old would have felt he had a real chance at staking a claim for a first team spot this season.

His form during the last campaign did fluctuate at times, but with 46 appearances under his belt throughout the season, he could argue that he has the experience necessary to see the Gers through this tie.

Still, Pedro Caixinha has proven to rule with a heavy hand, and McKay’s days at Ibrox look numbered.

Ryan Jack, 25 – Central Midfield

Another new arrival, Jack joined Gers from Scottish Premiership rivals Aberdeen on a free transfer after his contract expired, having played 250 games for the side that finished last season as runners up.

A seemingly sensible signing from Caixinha, the former Dons captain already has European experience, having played in all six of Aberdeen’s Europe League qualifying matches last season.

He will likely be a first team fixture for the upcoming campaign, with his league and cup experience proving vital to the club’s chances of catching the Dons and Old Firm rivals Celtic.

 Carlos Pena, 27 – Central Midfield

Carlos Pena joined the Gers from Mexican side Deportivo Guadalajara and he should be thrown straight into first team action in order to acclimatise to his new surroundings.

A natural central midfielder with 19 caps for Mexico to his name, the 27-year-old’s arrival has seen the likes of Andy Halliday and Matt Crooks lose their place in the squad for the Europa League tie.

Fans will be watching on intently to see whether he has the ability to succeed in Scotland, and they can expect to see a full blooded performance on his debut.

 Alfredo Morelos, 20 – Left Wing

A natural stiker, Morelos comes to Glasgow from Finnish side HJK Helsinki in imperious form.

Able to play on either flank as well as up front, the Columbian youngster hit 20 goals in 25 appearances across all competitions for his former side, and Caixinha will be hoping he can replicate that form in the upcoming season.

Shifted out wide to accommodate another new signing on this list, Morelos will likely be fighting it out for a role up front during the next campaign, although his versatility might see him earn more game time than others.

Kenny Miller, 37 – Centre Forward

Rangers do not have a more experienced head among their ranks than veteran forward Kenny Miller.

His experience is exactly what Pedro Caixinha needs for this tie, with so many new faces expected to start, he will be able to guide them through the intensity of the Ibrox atmosphere.

His passion for Rangers, as well as his hard work ethic and knack for scoring crucial goals means that he will lead the team from the front, and set an example for the new boys to follow.

His legs might not be what they were, but he will still play a vital role to Rangers season.

Eduardo Herrera, 28 – Centre Forward

The fifth new addition who should debut for Rangers is Mexican international Eduardo Herrera.

Having joined from UNAM Pumas, his international experience will give a big boost to the Gers’ front line, as he looks for a new start after departing his homeland.

His form might look sketchy, with just six goals in 28 appearances last season, but this Europa League tie is the perfect opportunity for him to rediscover his goalscoring touch ahead of an important league campaign.

In addition, playing alongside Kenny Miller will give him an example to follow in order to endear himself to the Rangers faithful.