Michael Beale revealed plans for his first competitive game as Rangers boss went up in the air before he had to adjust his side for the 3-2 win over Hibernian at Ibrox.
Young central defender Leon King, who signed a new long-term deal earlier in the day, called off sick while striker Antonio Colak, due to play alongside Alfredo Morelos, picked up an injury and it looked to have affected the home side.
Hibs defender Ryan Porteous – linked with a move to the Light Blues – headed the visitors in front from a corner in the eighth minute.
Gers attacker Fashion Sakala levelled in the 15th minute but moments later Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet, back for the first time since February following a knee injury, restored the Leith side’s lead with a powerful finish.
However, midfielder Ryan Jack levelled in the 58th minute from close range before Morelos grabbed the winner four minutes later.
“We lost Leon this morning, he hadn’t slept all night with a sickness bug going around,” said Beale, who revealed missing Turkish left-back Ridvan Yilmaz will be out for around another five weeks with a serious hamstring injury.
“James Tavernier was off with it during the week so was Scott Wright as well.
“Obviously that wasn’t ideal as we lost Colak to a tight calf right at the end of training yesterday and they we were both starting so it threw all the plans (away).
“You spend two weeks building it, everything is calm and then the last 24 hours have been a little bit all over the place.
“I had to ask John (Lundstram) to play out of position and he got on with it.”
Rangers trailed 2-1 at the interval and indeed Hibs could have been further ahead but the Gers’ second-half response was positive.
Former QPR boss Beale said: “I wonder if I fired them up too much first half and gave them too much energy. So I have to look at myself.
“Maybe I spoke with them with too much emotion before the game and they went and played that way.
“The first half showed me I have lots of work to do and the group to be fair.
“They have had a lot of change but they showed a lot of good character in the second half.”
On Yilmaz, who has been out since October, Beale said: “It was a very bad hamstring. It was diagnosed at 12 weeks and we’re six or seven into that.
“It’s not ideal obviously with Borna (Barisic) going away. He gets to a World Cup semi-final so well done to him and (Josip) Juranovic (of Celtic).
“I think it’s great for Scottish football to have two players involved at that level.
“That gives an opportunity for young Adam Devine and I thought he took it tonight.”
Hibs boss Lee Johnson was pleased to see Nisbet back in action and scoring.
He said: “It is massive to have him back. A club with our resources, where we are, you can’t not have your best players fit. It is as simple as that.
“I would have loved to have had a pre-season with this squad but we didn’t have that so we are still building various parts of our overall picture and Nizzy is part of that.
“When you have a Scotland international at a club like this then it’s important that he is fit.
“He has done extremely well and I’m delighted for him. The physio team deserves a lot of credit for accelerating his comeback.
“He deserved that goal and worked hard but, at the same time, he will continue to improve the longer time goes on.”
Johnson was not happy to hear that Scotland defender Porteous – who played in midfield – would miss the Edinburgh derby against Hearts on January 2 after picking up a second-half booking.
He said: “I didn’t know that. Obviously that’s a negative but football seems to be throwing these things at us at the moment.
“I thought he did extremely well against Rangers – it might have raised a few eyebrows me putting him in midfield, but I thought he filled the gaps well, he’s competitive in there, he’s a real athlete physically and he’s good on the ball.
“It was another good performance from a player who has, I think, shown a lot of commitment in difficult circumstances.”
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