Rangers manager Mark Warburton is planning to rotate his team heavily when Annan Athletic visit Ibrox in the Scottish League Cup on Tuesday.
The Rs boss intends to hand a first Ibrox appearance to Joey Barton, although Warburton says the club’s standout summer signing is some way behind the rest of the squad in terms of fitness.
Annan, who lost 1-0 to Stranraer in their first game of the League Cup, will view a trip to an under-strength Rangers as a chance to get points on the board in the rebranded competition.
Meanwhile, a 2-0 win at Motherwell got Rangers off to a winning start in the Cup, with Niko Kranjcar in line to start against Annan after impressing from the bench at Fir Park.
“We have mentioned before that he had 80 odd caps for Croatia but he recognises what he has to do, he recognises the fitness levels that he wants to establish to really make an impact,” said Warburton of Barton’s experienced fellow new arrival.
As well as Barton and Kranjcar, Josh Windass could make his Ibrox bow after joining from Accrington Stanley at the end of the season.
Matt Gilks, Lee Hodson and Clint Hill will start, although Warburton insists he is treating the Scottish League Cup as part of his pre-season preparations due to playing four games in nine days.
Rangers are strong favourites for this game, offered at a price of just 2/35 to keep up their winning run in the League Cup, while outsiders Annan are available at as big as 27/1 to pull off a shock victory. Football fans can also back the draw at a giant 37/4 for Tuesday’s game.
Where does the betting value lie?
With Rangers offered at such a short price for this League Cup Group F match, the handicap market may be worth considering for football fans here.
The 8/11 on Rangers -2 appeals considering how easily Warburton’s men ought to win this game, with the Scottish Premiership new boys likely to triumph without getting out of second gear.
Rangers/Rangers can also be backed at 20/83 on the half-time/full-time market, while the 20/27 on over 3.5 goals looks particularly tempting from the goals market.
As already mentioned, anyone who believes there could be a huge upset at Ibrox on Tuesday could take odds of 27/1 on Annan Athletic double chance, although Warburton’s team are supremely professional and should have few issues against the minnows, who finished in mid-table in Scottish League Two last year.
Rangers have won this competition 27 times in their history and they are priced up as the favourites to add to that haul of silverware this season. The group format should suit the bigger teams and Rangers can take a step towards the next round of the tournament with an easy win.
The 8/13 on Rangers to win both halves of the game appeals, as does the 20/57 that can be found on Rangers to win the game while keeping a clean sheet against the tame Annan attack.
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