How Ange could line up against St. Mirren

Having made changes to the side last week against Rangers that did not have the desired effect, Ange is likely to revert to something closer to his strongest XI for today’s game against St. Mirren as he looks to regain momentum ahead of the Cup final in two weeks time.

Backup goalkeeper Scott Bain may have signed a new contract in midweek; however, it is highly unlikely that we will see him start any of the remaining games this season.  Joe Hart has proven to be a reliable number 1 and, given the special nature of the goal keeper position, it would be an odd move to take him out even for one game at this stage of the season.  For me, Joe Hart starts in goals.

Yuki in / Bernabei out

The defence took a battering last week, both during and after the game, with Yuki Kobayashi taking his fair share of the blame for his role in Rangers first two goals.  Despite his first Glasgow Derby experience being a poor one, the Japanese defender should continue alongside Carl Starfelt at the heart of the defence today.

Normally comfortable and composed on the ball, Kobayahsi looked nervous and off the pace at Ibrox, perhaps a little taken aback by the cauldron-like atmosphere.  Regardless, with Carter-Vickers ruled out for the season and the player himself in need of game time to acclimatise to Scottish football and settle in ahead of next season, today provides Kobayashi with an immediate chance to put that performance behind him and build to the future.

Another defender who came in for criticism last week was Alex Bernabei.  The Argentine youngster is clearly a player with ability but does seem like a square peg in a round hole in the inverted full-back role.  With that in mind, a return to the side for Greg Taylor on the left would be an obvious move, while Anthony Ralston continues to deputise for the injured Alistair Johnston on the right.

Iwata to start?

In midfield, I would expect Callum McGregor to remain in the side and return to his best after his personal calamity last week for the third goal.  The positions alongside McGregor remain up for grabs with Iwata, Hatate, and O’Riley all in with a shout to start.

Personally, I would like to see Iwata given a starting berth to show what he can do from the start having put in some promising appearances off the bench.  As the player least known to the crowd, it would also be good to see him get minutes under his belt at home.

Hatate is another who needs to get the minutes in ahead of the Cup final if last week is anything to go by and therefore, he would probably make up my staring midfield trio with Callum and Iwata.  The prospect of a fired-up Matt O’Riley coming off the bench in the second half is also a nice thought.

Kyogoal returns

Up front, I would expect to see a return to the side for Kyogo and Maeda alongside Jota at the expense of Oh and Abada.  Neither player did themselves any favours last time out with quiet performances, albeit due to lack of service.  With the Cup final in mind, Ange may look to start his top players to keep them in good condition and rebuild the momentum.

That said, it would be great to see someone like Rocco Vata or Ben Summers get a surprise start today to give the support something else to look forward to.  Both players have had exciting seasons for the B team and Vata in particular has impressed on his rare first-team outings.  A further opportunity to shine today would be fine reward for their efforts.

Here’s my predicted line up, let us know if you agree or not.

Kevin McCluskie

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