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Sakala has great energy and pace to move Rangers past RB Leipzig in Europa League – Stewart

4:44 PM GMT+4 26/04/2022
Zambia strikere Fashion Sakala.
The former Scotland player feels the Chipolopolo should be thrown into the starting XI in the absence of injured Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos

Former Scotland player Michael Stewart believes Fashion Sakala will be the key player for Rangers when they take on RB Leipzig in their Europa League semi-final first-leg clash at Red Bull Arena on Thursday.

The Gers will go into the fixture minus two of their injured attackers – Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos.

The absence of the duo has left manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst scratching his head but according to the 41-year-old, Stewart, who played for a host of European clubs among them Manchester United, Sakala will be the best bet to help the team.

The 25-year-old Zambia international was in superb form as 10-man Rangers defeated Motherwell 3-1 in a Scottish Premiership fixture on Saturday, as he also popped up with an assist.

“He’s got great energy and great pace,” Stewart told BBC Sportscene. “When he gets his legs open and he’s running at defences, it’s difficult for the opposition.

“Obviously, with Roofe being out, I don’t think there will be any doubt in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s mind that he will look for Sakala to play there.

“When you’re potentially playing teams in Europe away from home and you have someone like Sakala, who can stretch opponents and get in behind, he could be a great out ball. It’s a massive game.”

Meanwhile, former Rangers forward Kris Boyd believes Nigeria international Joe Aribo should be handed an advanced role against the German side in the absence of the two players.

“The loss of Alfredo Morelos was a big blow, but losing Roofe is an even bigger blow for me,” Boyd said as quoted by The National. “You had Roofe to replace Morelos but there’s no one really to replace Roofe.

“I know Sakala played on Saturday but you’ve got to look at the last European game and that wasn’t his best performance. You know what you’re going to get from Sakala but I still think he’s better coming off the wing.

“Whether that then moves Ryan Kent into a central position, you put Sakala out there or Joe Aribo comes into it.”

Boyd continued: “For me looking at it, if I’m going to start Fashion [Sakala] he has to start in the wide area.

“He might as well start on the right and Kent might stay in his position. Scott Wright is there, Joe [Aribo] could play as a false nine. So there are plenty of options. That’s why I’ll probably sit and talk about it and let Giovanni pick his team.”