By Ibrox News speaking to Alex McLeish

19th Jul, 2021 | 5:10pm

Alex McLeish shares Calvin Bassey verdict amid Borna Barisic pre-season absence

We’re delighted to welcome former Rangers manager Alex McLeish as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Ibrox…

Alex McLeish has cast major doubts over left-back Calvin Bassey’s chances of securing a regular spot in the Rangers starting XI.

Bassey, 21, joined the Gers from Leicester City in the summer of 2020 [BBC], but he made just eight Scottish Premiership appearances last season as Borna Barisic kept hold of his starting berth.

The Croatia international was on international duty with Croatia at Euro 2020 this summer and is yet to return to pre-season training.

With the 28-year-old absent, Bassey has stepped up to perform admirably in the friendlies thus far, staking his claim for further involvement under Steven Gerrard this season.

However, former Rangers manager Alex McLeish has suggested that the Italian-born defender will always be deputy, unless Barisic exits Ibrox.

“That’s what he has to do,” McLeish told Ibrox News when asked if Bassey will be trying to impress Gerrard and get ahead of Barisic in the pecking order.

“That’s the motivation for any younger player or anyone playing second fiddle to the first choice.

“Bassey has shown he has got very good skills, a good technique.

“Can he be a top, top defender? Barisic has been absolutely outstanding, he’s now an international player who has gone to the Euros and gained all that experience in his locker.

“Let’s be honest, Bassey will still be the cover unless Barisic leaves or something, which doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.”

Champions League possibilities

Gerrard may choose to rotate his side more than last season, particularly if the Gers gain progression into the group stages of the Champions League.

Last season’s sole aim was winning the Scottish Premiership.

Yes, the Europa League was a nice distraction, and we wanted to go as far as possible, but the main objective was crushing Celtic’s dreams of 10-in-a-row and ending our long drought without a title.

Now, however, we may need to be savvier in our approach, and save certain players for Champions League games.

After a season of adaptation, this should be Bassey’s golden chance to cement himself as an integral member of the first-team squad, and who knows, he could rival Barisic for that left-back slot in the near future.

In other Rangers news, this ex-Celtic star has compared a Light Blues midfielder to Scott Brown.