John Souttar axed as Jose Cifuentes returns to squad – Rangers confirmed XI vs Hearts
Philippe Clement’s confirmed Rangers starting XI for the visit of Hearts to Ibrox in his second league game in charge has been released by the
Scotland international John Souttar has been benched as Ridvan Yilmaz returns to the line-up at left-back, having missed the midweek game thanks to Michael Beale’s decision to omit him from the European squad, as Borna Barisic isn’t yet fit for the match-day squad.
Jose Cifuentes and Kieran Dowell are on the bench after recovering from injury, with Clement confirming in his pre-match press conference that the midfielder was set to be back in training.
Otherwise the team is unchanged from the Sparta Prague game with Jack Butland in goal, and James Tavernier and Connor Goldson joining Davies and Yilmaz in defence.
John Lundstram and Nico Raskin are in central midfield, with Todd Cantwell, Sam Lammers and Abdallah Sima supporting Cyriel Dessers in attack.
Danilo is again only fit to start on the bench as he continues his return from a fractured cheekbone.
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For once this season Rangers have a little bit of momentum since Clement came in and got off to a flyer with a much-needed 4-0 win over Hibs last weekend.
The midweek trip to Prague was much more hit and miss but the players ended the game strongly and picked up a solid point away in the Europa League.
Given how miserably most of the campaign had been under Beale this arguably constitutes one of the most positive points of the situation so far for the Light Blues, not least since Celtic dropped points with a goalless draw against Hibs on Saturday (28 October).
Hearts are unlikely to just roll over and let Rangers play like their Edinburgh rivals did last weekend but Steven Naismith is under some pressure at the moment so this is an opportunity for Clement to really get his reign rolling.
If he can continue to build momentum in the coming weeks then it might finally put some pressure on Brendan Rodgers at Parkhead, with Beale having comprehensively missed that opportunity to start the campaign.
There is a long way to go to rescue this season yet, with the Viaplay Cup semi and potential final before the 30 December Old Firm derby the main upcoming tests, but Clement will know he needs to lay the ground work before then with strong performances and results now.