OH to be in the shoes of Graeme Murty this week.
While he’ll firstly be looking forward immensely to testing his rampant Rangers side against Celtic on Sunday, he’ll also spend the build-up nursing an almighty selection headache.
Will Jamie Murphy recover in time from the injury which kept him out of the win over Falkirk yesterday? If he does, which of Alfredo Morelos and Jason Cummings plays? Or does Murty play both of them in a formation altered from what has been a pretty consistent 4-2-3-1 since the turn of the year?
In defence, does Bruno Alves retain his place? Does Russell Martin come back in alongside David Bates? Or do Martin and Alves play together?
Managers will always say they enjoy having such a headache – but few would envy the task Murty has in selecting the 11 players for this Old Firm showdown.
Of all the players to cause him a dilemma, perhaps Cummings has provided him with the biggest challenge.
His hat-trick against Falkirk truly was a superb one. His opening goal was all about composure – a lovely first touch received Daniel Candeias’ excellent ball which split the defence before Cummings curled the ball superbly round the goalkeeper from a superb angle.
His second, again, required a wonderful first touch before a clinical finish into the bottom corner.
Incidentally – that goal speaks volumes about the mental strength this Rangers side currently possesses. In the past, the blow of being pegged back in a game could have proved fatal to them, but now, the opposite is true, seemingly spurring them on to raise their level.
And it’s not a one off either – it happened at Ayr, it happened at Hamilton and it happened again yesterday.
Cummings’ third goal was perhaps fortuitous given it came from the rebound of an Alfredo Morelos shot – and the Colombian may well have put the ball in anyway – but Cummings arrived from his berth out on the left to slam it home and grab his first career hat-trick.
And while he played out on that left-hand side, Murty alluded to his role of being more of an “inside forward” rather than an out-and-out winger. It was noticeable though how often Cummings tracked back in support of Andy Halliday, often popping up in Gers’ own box to clear danger.
It should be said, though, Halliday too had an excellent game and proved to be a more-than able deputy for Declan John and Lee Wallace. It remains to be seen if either of those two natural options will be fit for Sunday’s derby.
That Rangers scored four goals yet again, and yet again there was some disquiet about the overall performance from the manager is also encouraging – his standards are high and as we learned after the St Johnstone game when the players were disappointed, their standards are high too.
And so, to Sunday. It has been a long, long time since Rangers went into an Old Firm game with optimism as high as it is now.
Given the way the Light Blues have been playing recently, that optimism doesn’t look to be misplaced either.
If they do manage to pull off a victory on Sunday, then boy, how sweet will that be?