It's now been a couple of months since Rangers were kicked out of Scotland's top league and forced to start again in the bottom league of the SFL. In that time we've faced teams from every division apart from the SPL so with the ongoing arguments about suitable punishment for our club still raging that is sure to add some spice for the visit of Motherwell in the Scottish Communities League Cup.
Of course, despite managing to secure some top SPL players in the summer transfer window, we've still struggled to put together any sort of consistent winning run. Moreover, while we initially seemed reasonably confident at home against most opposition sides, a dramatic penalty loss against Queen of the South means that once again we have exited a cup competition rather prematurely. Thus, while Motherwell may currently top the SPL, many fans will be expecting a home win tomorrow night - even if some bookies (and our manager) consider us the underdogs.
Despite an inconsistent start to the season, there were glimpses of slight improvement at the weekend with a comfortable home win over Montrose. Especially pleasing for the manager and fans would be the goal-scoring performance of his younger players. McCoist will be expecting his senior players to match that attitude more often.
Onto the team then and some have made the point that the manager has been unable to field the same defence twice in a row which may explain some of the lapses we've seen at the back. However, with only Ian Black struggling from the weekend, it would be a surprise to see a different back four against 'Well - unless Ally fancies a return to the back 3 we seen earlier in the season. Certainly with the SPL's top scorer Michael Higdon sure to offer a stern physical test, whoever is selected better have had their Weetabix beforehand.
Moving into midfield and it would be argued that is where we have struggled most this season given we have failed to control matches enough. Nevertheless, we have seen patches of good play from most of the lads in this area so hopefully the hamstring strain suffered by Ian Black doesn't keep him out of tomorrow's match. Some further continuity of selection would be more than useful. If he does miss out then Kyle Hutton would probably be a direct replacement; even if the young Scotsman has struggled to persuade his manager he's worthy of a squad place recently.
One area of the team were we lack options is up front. With captain Lee McCulloch often drafted into deeper roles and Francisco Sandaza struggling to find his feet, it has been left to Barrie McKay and Dean Shiels to not only provide the creative spark from deep but to get forward and score goals as well. The good news that Andy Little is nearing fitness again should help as the Ulsterman has chipped in with several goals already this season on the way to an early-season award. Kevin Kyle serves the final game of his suspension for his red card against QoS last week.
All in all, with Motherwell top of the SPL after an unbeaten start, tomorrow night's game represents a huge challenge for the team. Despite the charitable words from both clubs pre-match; this will be the first of many SFL v SPL grudge matches as Rangers begin their journey back to the top league.
Indeed, the only sense of community spirit in this match may be in the competition name.
Possible team (4-5-1):