By Nick Ware

26th Aug, 2021 | 2:44pm

Confirmed Rangers starting XI v Alashkert

Rangers have made five changes to their starting XI for the second leg of their Europa League qualifier against Alashkert, after the squad was struck by a COVID-19 crisis.

Assistant manager Gary McAllister will be overseeing events in Armenia after Steven Gerrard was forced to stay home and self-isolate.

Captain James Tavernier will also miss the crunch clash for the same reasons, as do Allan McGregor, Scott Wright, Ryan Kent, Calvin Bassey, and Jon McLaughlin.

John Lundstram and Kemar Roofe are also absent through suspension.

As a result, Rangers have been forced to make wholesale changes to the side that dispatched Ross County on Sunday, with Robby McCrorie lining up in goal for his debut.

Nathan Patterson and Borna Barisic take the places of Tavernier and Bassey at full-back, while Connor Goldson is partnered by Filip Helander.

Glen Kamara returns from his European ban to line up alongside Steven Davis and Scott Arfield in midfield, while Alfredo Morelos is joined by Joe Aribo and Ianis Hagi in attack.

The Gers confirmed the team news via their official Twitter account prior to kick-off.

Rangers edged out tonight’s opponents 1-0 at Ibrox last week, courtesy of a second-half Morelos goal.

While the Gers were dominant in terms of shots, Lundstram’s first-half dismissal made events nervier than they should have been, and a slender lead ensures Alashkert will still be eyeing progression to the group stages.

They will be particularly buoyed by the omission of big names from Rangers’ squad tonight, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis that has engulfed the squad.

With the removal of the away goals rule, Alashkert just need to win to at least force extra time.

However, despite being forced to leave behind key figures such as Tavernier and Kent, as well as Gerrard, there is sure to be confidence in the Rangers ranks that there is enough quality to at least avoid defeat in Armenia.

In other Rangers news, BBC pundit blown away by this ‘Unstoppable’ Gers ace after 4-2 win v Ross County on Sunday.