Jim Goodwin doesn’t know a whole lot about Rangers’ new forward pair – but his recently assembled St Mirren backline is giving him plenty of confidence ahead of the Ibrox meeting.
The Buddies travel to Rangers tomorrow for a game in especially unusual circumstances. It’s the first competitive home match Rangers will play behind closed doors as Saints prepare for a game against the Glasgow side in front of a handful of people, not 50,000.
They are in high spirits heading into the match following a solid 1-0 win over Livingston on opening weekend. Their defensive performance was key to that, with 4/5 of his backline including goalkeeper Jak Alnwick new recruits this summer.
They’ll have a new challenge to face tomorrow after Steven Gerrard’s recent signings. Former Leeds United forward Kemar Roofe has joined from Anderlecht whilst Cedric Itten has moved to the SPFL from Swiss side St Gallen. It hasn’t given Goodwin much time to prepare for facing them but his new defence is giving him hope regardless.
“When we looked at the fixtures, we knew Rangers were away in Europe and of course from our point of view you are hoping that they maybe have a bit of a hangover from that, like you see sometimes,” he said. “But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed to see the two new guys come in. They have spent five or six million on two really good new additions.
“I don’t know a great deal about Itten, I have to admit. I did look at him on Wyscout (a scouting site), but I have seen enough of Roofe during his time in England. He started off in the lower leagues in England and he has managed to build himself up through the leagues.
“He is about a goal every two games in the last three or four years and he had a very successful time at Leeds, and scored half a dozen goals in 13 league games in Belgium. He’s a very, very good striker and he’s a handful and it gives Steven Gerrard another attacking option to add to Morelos. We will need to see what selection Steven comes up with but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the two new lads in the starting line-up, or at least one of them.
“Jak Alnwick in goal and the back four took a lot of plaudits on Saturday and rightly so. That’s the first time they have actually played together full stop, never mind in a pre-season friendly, because Marcus and Joe Shaughnessy came in late and with the coronavirus problem we had, that game against St Johnstone got postponed.
“Considering everything we had to deal with in the build-up to that game, missing four days of training, valuable, valuable days of training, putting a new back four together with a new goalkeeper, coming away with the kind of performance the lads put on was quite remarkable. And it gives me great confidence going forward.”
The Buddies striker hunt
Rangers aren’t the only ones in the striker market. Goodwin has made no secret of his ambition to sign another striker to reinforce a forward line which has Jon Obika and Junior Morias as it’s only natural frontmen.
Links have floated about, with Vakoun Issouf Bayo coming in on loan from Celtic one that seemed to build momentum. Goodwin is open to anything with regards to a new Buddies striker, saying one could arrive on a permanent or on loan from Premier League clubs – although he’ll face competition.
“We do really need another one but it won’t be a £4.5 million striker, that’s for sure,” said Goodwin. “We’re open to both a permanent or a loan. There are a couple of ones out there that I would like to try and get on a permanent but the players we’re talking to are of a decent standard and they are exploring their options.
“We aren’t the only club that is interested in them. We’ve also got our eye on one or two loans from the English Premier League but they don’t start for another couple of weeks down there.
“They tend to like to have the young lads around the squad for the first couple of weeks of pre-season before they make their mind up. We are just going to have to be patient on that front. If we can get one done in the next week or two then we will. But at the same time, the window is open to early October. So there’s no great rush at the moment.”