THERE are a multitude of games in the Ladbrokes Premiership, William Hill Scottish Cup and Europa League coming up for Rangers in the second half of the season; even if they get knocked out of the latter two competitions in the next round they will still have no fewer than 21 matches to negotiate between now and May.

Yet, it is safe to say that Steven Gerrard won’t make as many changes, no fewer than seven, as he did for the meeting with part-time Stranraer at Ibrox on Friday evening in any of them.

So the likelihood of the Glasgow club performing as woefully again between now and the end of the 2019/20 campaign as they did in the meeting with the League One part-timers is slim.

The league encounter against St Mirren in Govan on Wednesday night should see Allan McGregor, Connor Goldson, Borna Barisic, Glen Kamara and Ryan Kent all restored to the starting line-up. It is hard to see Jim Goodwin’s men causing them many, if indeed any, problems with that on-form quintet back involved.

Still, the Light Blues’ flat display against the Blues on their return to action after the three week winter shutdown last week should still be slightly concerning for both their manager and supporters all the same.

Gerrard is confident that he has far greater strength and depth at his disposal this term than he did in his debut campaign, when draws and defeats to lesser opponents saw them finish nine points adrift of Celtic, and will be better placed to sustain a credible challenge for the Scottish title as a result.

The poor showing of Rangers last week, though, suggested that if key men suffer injuries or pick up suspensions, something that is inevitable given their busy schedule, they may struggle to maintain their high standards and avoid leaking vital points.

Wes Foderingham, George Edmundson, Andy Halliday, Jordan Jones, Brandon Barker and Sheyi Ojo, who have all found game time hard to come by in the last six months, were handed chances in the cup tie. Perhaps only Foderingham and Edmundson, who replaced McGregor and Goldson respectively, received pass marks. But they were hardly tested by lower league opposition.

Gerrard didn’t gloss over the fact they had disappointed afterwards. “If people have any ambitions of making the starting XI then they need to take opportunities like the Stranraer game,” he said. “Some did and some didn’t. They will know themselves whether they have done themselves justice or not.”

Will the second-placed Premiership side, who are two points behind their city rivals at the top of the table with a game in hand at home against St Johnstone still to play, be able to avoid slip-ups if those aforementioned fringe players are required to take over from their more established club mates for a prolonged spell? Many of those who were in attendance at the Stranraer game will certainly fear the worst if they are called on.

If Edmundson, Halliday or Jones are promoted to the first team they will walk into a far stronger and less experimental side than the one they played in on Friday and will benefit from having a superior quality of team mate around them.

Still, the loss of James Tavernier, who underwent a minor procedure on his appendix last week and is set to be sidelined for the coming games, must be a worry. After all, Rangers’ first-choice full-backs are vitally important to how they play.

Nathan Patterson, the 18-year-old defender, did superbly on his debut in senior football against Stranraer and showed why so many at the Hummel Training Centre, including Gerrard, are predicting a bright future for him. But he is still just a kid and lacks the physicality and penetration of his club captain going forward.

Jon Flanagan, the former Liverpool player, could well come in against St Mirren in his favoured position in midweek. But fans are still waiting for him to come good 19 months after he arrived. He doesn’t offer as much as his skipper in attack when he is on his game either.

Up front, too, the absence of Morelos, who will miss the next two games due to a suspension, will be keenly felt. Jermain Defoe, who netted his 15th goal of the 2019/20 campaign last week, is a none too shabby replacement despite his advancing years. He remains as fit and sharp as ever. But Rangers just don’t pose the same threat without their talismanic leading scorer.

Neil Lennon has, in comparison, an embarrassment of riches. With the signing of Patryk Klimala for £3.5 million last week he now has four fit strikers at his disposal. He was able to bring on Jozo Simunovic at the back against Partick Thistle at the weekend when Nir Bitton, who was standing in for Kristoffer Ajer, suffered an early injury. The long-awaited comeback of Daniel Arzani, too, increases his options.

Gerrard has stated he is, after a summer of extensive and expensive recruitment, unlikely to do much business in the January transfer window. But he would be well advised to make one or two quality additions to his squad this month to make sure Rangers don’t slump to the kind of draws and defeats which followed their much-heralded triumph over Celtic at Ibrox in December last season and ultimately ended up undermining their Premiership bid.