Sheyi Ojo will get his first taste of the Old Firm derby on Sunday afternoon, days after Steven Gerrard’s Rangers booked their place in the Europa League.
Rangers had to make it through a gruelling qualifying process which began while their pre-season was ongoing: their first of four two-legged ties coming on July 9, just over seven weeks after the end of 2018/19.
But after going through St Joseph’s, Progres Niederkorn and FC Midtjylland, the Scottish giants took on Legia Warsaw in the play-off round.
A 0-0 draw in Poland set up a tense clash at Ibrox on Thursday evening, and Ojo scraped into the starting lineup after an injury concern in the buildup.
The Liverpool loanee struggled early on in a tough game, with Football Scotland‘s Stuart Hodge insisting that he was “capable of more,” but as the Daily Record‘s Michael Gannon agreed, he “was much more direct” after the break.
It took Rangers until the 91st minute to get the breakthrough they needed, Alfredo Morelos making it 1-0, and Gerrard opted to withdraw Ojo in the dying seconds as his side held on for victory.
@EuropaLeague … We are HERE ?? pic.twitter.com/Ppm65kGYil
— Sheyi Ojo (@sheyi_ojo) August 29, 2019
The Gers will find out their opponents in the Europa League group stage on Friday afternoon, but will need to produce a tight turnaround as a visit from Celtic comes at Sunday lunchtime.
Always a ferocious encounter, the Old Firm derby was how Ryan Kent really made his mark on Rangers supporters.
And after scoring four and assisting three in nine games so far, Ojo can do the same this weekend.
Elsewhere, Marko Grujic will be looking for redemption as Hertha Berlin travel to Schalke on Saturday afternoon.
Hertha suffered their first defeat of the season last time out against Wolfsburg, with Grujic taking to Instagram after the game to vow he and his team-mates would “take positives and show much better defending next week.”
Schalke are level with Hertha after two games in the Bundesliga so far, with both sides taking just one point, and Grujic will come up against the manager who tried to sign him for Huddersfield back in 2018, with David Wagner now at the reins in Gelsenkirchen.
Loris Karius and Nat Phillips can build on impressive showings last time out as Besiktas and Stuttgart take on Rizespor and Bochum respectively.
Meanwhile, Taiwo Awoniyi‘s first start for Mainz could come in testing circumstances as they travel to Bayern Munich.
Ben Woodburn, buoyed by his first league goal last weekend and a successful spot-kick in Oxford United’s penalty shootout victory over Millwall in the League Cup in midweek, can hope for more as his side take on Coventry.
And the in-form Ovie Ejaria could be tasked with inspiring Reading to victory over Championship dark horses Charlton, with the Royals themselves lifted by a comeback win over Plymouth in the cup on Tuesday.
Liverpool’s Loanees This Weekend
- Loris Karius (Besiktas) – Rizespor (H), Friday 7.45pm
- Marko Grujic (Hertha Berlin) – Schalke (A), Saturday 2.30pm
- Taiwo Awoniyi (Mainz) – Bayern Munich (A), Saturday 2.30pm
- Harry Wilson (Bournemouth) – Leicester (A), Saturday 3pm
- Kamil Grabara (Huddersfield) – Luton (A), Saturday 3pm
- Ovie Ejaria (Reading) – Charlton (H), Saturday 3pm
- Liam Millar (Kilmarnock) – St Johnstone (A), Saturday 3pm
- Ben Woodburn (Oxford United) – Coventry (H), Saturday 3pm
- Rhys Williams (Kidderminster) – Alfreton Town (H), Saturday 3pm
- Sheyi Ojo (Rangers) – Celtic (H), Sunday 12pm
- Nat Phillips (Stuttgart) – Bochum (H), Monday 7.30pm
- Allan Rodrigues (Fluminense) – Avai (H), Monday midnight