By Dan Carter

19th Sep, 2023 | 8:10am

Cyriel Dessers and Rabbi Matondo start as Danilo is ruled out - Rangers predicted XI v Real Betis

Michael Beale is likely to make at least four changes to his Rangers starting lineup for the Europa League opener against Real Betis on Thursday.

With Danilo confirmed to be out for several weeks following a fractured cheekbone in the win over St Johnstone at the weekend, the forward will be unavailable as the Light Blues get their European campaign up and running for the second time this season.

While the win in Perth eased pressure on Beale and his position following a difficult start to the campaign, the Ibrox boss now has to find a way to navigate through injuries to ensure his side carry that upturn in form into the Europa League.

Jack Butland remains fit and has impressed since he arrived in Glasgow despite the team’s difficult start to the campaign, he’s likely the first name on the team sheet and will continue between the posts.

James Tavernier will continue in defence having been at his creative best against the Saints, while clean sheets for both Connor Goldson and Ben Davies should ensure they are allowed to build on their good form and state their case to be the first-choice centre-back partnership at Ibrox.

At left-back Borna Barisic could be likely to replace Ridvan Yilmaz, the Croatian returned to action over the international break and despite remaining on the bench for Saturday’s win, his experience and quality may be a necessity against Betis.

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Despite plenty of new options in the base of midfield, Nicolas Raskin and John Lundstrum will likely continue having been impressive against St Johnstone. No one was more accurate with their passing or won more tackles than the Belgian, while Lundstrum won all his tackles and was typically workmanlike.

Ryan Jack is a favourite of Beale’s and could replace one of the two men at the base, but it would seem strange to stray too far from what worked on Saturday.

With both Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell still sidelined with knee injuries, the roles behind the striker become incredibly hard to predict. Kemar Roofe didn’t have his best game against the Saints but should be set to continue in his centre-forward role just behind the striker.

Although Tom Lawrence impressed in his first start since his serious injury, it seems risky to start him twice in one week after so long out. Rabbi Matondo would be the most likely candidate to replace his fellow Welshman, having scored from the bench in Perth.

Abdallah Sima could replace Sam Lammers after the Dutchman put in another forgettable performance against the Saints, the Brighton loanee was bright when he came on and would offer a different threat to Lammers with pace in the wider areas.

With Danilo ruled out, Cyriel Dessers finally has the chance to show that he is capable of leading the line for Beale’s side, he’s been preferred over several different options throughout this season and he now has to repay his manager’s faith.

That leaves, Lammers, Lawrence and Jose Cifuentes on the bench and ready to impact proceedings as Beale looks to build on the win over St Johnstone and truly get this season up and running.

In other Rangers news, Ben Davies has revealed just how close he was to leaving Ibrox this summer