Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst is confident his team can still be a match for Europa League Group A winners Lyon on Thursday evening despite the number of changes he intends to make to his starting line-up
Van Bronckhorst has confirmed he is ready to rest some players with Sunday’s Premiership fixture against Hearts at Tynecastle in mind.
But there will be no return to action in Lyon for central defender Leon Balogun despite the Nigerian international being back in training after missing van Bronckhorst’s first four games in charge through injury.
Among the key men who could be left out by van Bronckhorst are strikers Alfredo Morelos and Fashion Sakala who are both one booking away from a suspension which would rule them out of the first leg of Rangers’ first knockout round tie in February.
Lyon coach Peter Bosz may leave defender Jerome Boateng out for the same reason and is also likely to rest other players ahead of their Ligue 1 clash at Lille on Sunday.
“Regarding the team news, I think Leon Balogun cannot travel this afternoon,” said van Bronckhorst on Wednesday morning.
“We still have a training session left and so far we have everyone on board. We just have to wait until after the training before I can announce my squad.
“Regarding the game, we are going to watch closely the physical state of my players and it is also a game where I can change some positions to give the players some minutes who need that. I am more than comfortable to do so and to get a good game tomorrow evening
“For the players who come in, it’s always good to have minutes. One of the downsides of being a coach with a big squad and also a squad with good players is that you have to disappoint players in every game.
“That’s something that’s not easy to do but you have to do it. So when you have the chance to give those players a chance to play it’s always good, it’s a nice feeling. And for the players as well, because some players didn’t play as much in the last weeks but they gave everything in training and their mentality was really good so I am very pleased to give some players minutes tomorrow.
“These European games are always special. There is nothing at stake (in terms of qualification) so when you win or lose it doesn’t matter because you are still in, but I think both teams and both managers want to win every game.
“For me, it’s the same as for Peter Bosz. I expect some changes with Lyon as well. They have some injury problems after the weekend but still they have a very big squad, a quality squad, so in the end we will face a strong Lyon side with a lot of quality