Saturday’s match will definitely secure its place in Rangers history – either as a cap to an undefeated spell in League One or an unlikely loss to end a perplexing season. Either way for four Rangers players it will likely mark a turning point in their professional careers as they see their contracts expire this month.
Given Rangers budgetary calamity & Ally McCoist’s desire to add SPFL caliber talent to lead Rangers through their (hopefully) brief stay in the Scottish Championship – it may be likely that Andy Little, Emilson Cribari, Kyle Hutton & Steve Simonsen will be suiting up for the final time for the Light Blues.
The 24 year old Nortern Ireland internationalist joined Rangers as a teenager in 2006 & has been one of the brighter players to emerge from Rangers youth ranks. Outside of a short loan with Port Vale, Little has put in his time at Murray Park with hopes of securing a full time spot in Rangers starting lineup. When so many took the opportunity to leave Rangers during the summer of 2012, Little stayed & finally had the chance to feature as one of Rangers main forwards for most of the 2012-13 season. He responded by scoring 25 goals in the Third Division & continued to play a role on the national team as well.
Unfortunately, 2013-14 has not seen Little enjoy similar results. Injuries derailed most of his campaign & the signings of Jon Daly & Nicky Clark meant that when Little did play – it was usually in the midfield. In his limited action, Little was effective – even if the goals weren’t coming as often as last season.
Chances of returning next season: 65% Rangers do have an option to pick up a third year on this current contract & he clearly is willing to stay & compete for playing time. However, given his unfortunate luck with injuries & McCoist’s desire to add more fire power to the forward ranks – the chance of Little returning really is a toss up.
Like Little, Kyle Hutton’s season has been a bust due to long term injuries. However, it is clear that McCoist has grown to value Hutton’s skill set given his abrupt inclusion into the lineup for the Ramsdens Cup Final after being limited for months with an ankle injury. Hutton has often had to settle with being left out of McCoist’s plans for much of the last two seasons, frustrating the 23 year old – especially after committing his future to the club when so many wouldn’t. Plus, Rangers supporters have been split on the defensive midfielder but in his limited appearances of late Hutton has shown the ability to be just as effective as Ian Black in that role.
Chances of returning next season: 50% Logic says no, gut says yes. It would only make sense for Hutton to move on & find a new club where he could walk into a starting role, however I have a hunch that McCoist wants to bring Hutton back to pair up with Black in the midfield – especially if Arnold Peralta does decide to leave this summer.
Cribari was signed back in August of 2012, when Rangers were desperately trying to piece together a squad of players & the center back was brought in as insurance for the impending loans of Carlos Bocanegra & Dorin Goian. His career had been floundering since his halcyon days with Lyon, but hey – he was Brazilian! He had to be good!? Right? Not so much. Even though he towers at 6’3 he never seemed to be willing to dominate aerial battles – even in the Third Division. His play was less then inspiring last season & was offered a chance to leave this past summer. However, he turned down an offer to move to a team in Greece & was seemingly content to be a passenger this season.
Chances of returning next season: 10% Cribari is gone…however there are whispers that he may want to stay on in some capacity as a coach.
Sadly, Simonsen’s legacy with Rangers will forever be mired by one single gaffe. His untimely misplay vs. Dundee United will be all that lingers in the minds of Rangers supporters when they look back at the 35 year old’s tenure at Ibrox. It’s a shame, really. Every keeper, even the great ones, have those unimaginable mistakes at least once a season – Simonsen’s just so happened to occur in his second ever appearance for Rangers. McCoist’s insistence on signing a veteran understudy to Cammy Bell, never seemed truly necessary but Simonsen really appeared to be a top professional whose presence in the dressing room was likely appreciated by his teammates.
Chances of returning next season: 30% It’s a long shot, but McCoist does value having a veteran back-up goalkeeper & Simonsen definitely seemed ready to embrace the role. Logic would dictate letting Scott Gallacher take on the gig but the manager’s faith in youth has often been questioned.