By Jason Jones

9th Mar, 2020 | 12:34pm

Ibrox View: Rarely seen Rangers player squandered golden opportunity to usurp teammate on Sunday


You can’t help feeling that this coming summer transfer window might be one of the most important that Rangers have had to navigate in recent times.

With their chances of usurping Celtic at the summit of the Scottish Premiership looking increasingly slim this term, the Gers could realistically be facing their last opportunity to prevent their bitter rivals from securing a dreaded tenth league title in a row next year.

And if that is the case, then Steven Gerrard will be fully aware of just how much work he will have to put in to get this side up to scratch.

One man who has come in for criticism of late, and who could be on his way out of the club in the near future is James Tavernier.

The 28-year-old caused some controversy last week by admitting in his programme notes that his teammates weren’t up to the task of sustaining a prolonged title challenge, and since then, Football Insider have reported that the Gers have slashed their asking price for him in an effort to facilitate his exit at the end of the season. 

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As it happens, Tavernier is currently carrying a knock too, and was unable to feature in the 1-0 win over Ross County on Sunday.

And that gave us all an opportunity to look at Gerrard’s most obvious alternative to his struggling captain.

Matt Polster was given the nod at right-back, and while he put in a decent enough performance, you would have to say that there was nothing to suggest that he can be a long term replacement for Tavernier, should the skipper leave.

The American registered a defensive duel win rate of 67%, as per Wyscout – just marginally higher than Tavernier’s season average on 64.6%.

On the front foot, however, some of the disparities between the two players were a lot more noticeable.

Polster managed just one successful cross out of five against Ross County – a completion rate of 20% – and a whole 9.3% less than his teammate’s season average.

Similarly, the 26-year-old completed two successful dribbles, a decent enough return, but still less than half of Tavernier’s 4.49 average.

If Tavernier is getting criticised for these numbers and Polster isn’t even matching them, what chance does the American realistically have of taking his place in the starting XI?

Of course, judging Polster on one game alone would be relatively short sighted, but he won’t get too many opportunities to stake his claim between now and the end of the season, and it means that when he is presented with a chance like this one, he has to do a much better job of seizing it if he is to play his way into his manager’s affections.

In other Rangers news, Ibrox Exclusive – Alex Bruce reacts to ‘huge’ Gers blow ahead of clash v Bayer Leverkusen.