Kris Boyd has suggested during Sky Sports’s live post-match coverage of Rangers’s draw with Aberdeen (broadcast on 4/12; 22:11) that Steven Gerrard will be praying that Borna Barisic will be fit for Sunday’s League Cup final after Jon Flanagan’s performance at Pittodrie.
The Gers are now two points off top spot in the Scottish Premiership. Rangers had led 2-0 during the first-half against the Dons. But they then conceded twice, leaving them to take home just one point.
Barisic missed the game due to injury. And unsurprisingly, it was Flanagan who came in at left-back against Derek McInnes’s men.
The 26-year-old faced a tough task filling in for the Croatian. Barisic has been a revelation for much of this season. Flanagan has often done well defensively when called upon, but he does not offer the same quality in the attacking areas that his teammate provides.
However, his performance on Wednesday highlighted how important Barisic has become. Flanagan made a number of defensive errors and landed his side in trouble more than once.
And Boyd suggested after the draw that Flanagan’s display made it clear just how crucial it is that Barisic is back to face Celtic at the weekend.
“Steven Gerrard will be praying that Borna Barisic is fit,” he told Sky Sports. “I was one of the ones who criticised him for a long period of time, and I felt rightly so. But recently, he has turned into a big, big player for Rangers and they do need him back.
“Jon Flanagan, he’s played a lot of big games. He doesn’t normally look nervous, he defends well. That wasn’t the case tonight. And asking him to go again in a few days time against better opposition might be tough going. Rangers and Steven Gerrard will be praying that Borna Barisic is fit for Sunday.”
In fairness to Flanagan, he has not featured in a first-team game since September. Nevertheless, his performance seemed to do him few favours.
Gerrard cannot afford to have a player start Sunday’s game and produce a display that is, at best, deemed to be not too bad considering how little he has played. There is no question that Celtic will be a lot happier if Flanagan is named in the starting lineup at Hampden Park instead of Barisic.