Rangers return to action on Saturday against Hearts at Tynecastle after a week off, but they will not expect an easy ride against the Scottish Cup finalists.
While Steven Gerrard’s men were working towards the final matches of the campaign, they were forced to watch from afar as the Edinburgh side booked their place in the showpiece event at Hampden next month thanks to a 3-0 win over Inverness.
|Game||Hearts vs Rangers|
|Date||Saturday, April 20|
|Time||12:00pm BST / 7:00am EST|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed live online via B/R Live.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on Sky Sports Football. It can be streamed via Sky GO Extra.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Football||Sky GO Extra|
Squads & Team News
|Defenders||Berra, Souttar, Dikamona, Haring, Hughes, Shaughnessy, Smith, Brandon, Godinho|
|Midfielders||Djoum, Bozanic, Cochrane, Lee, Martin, Burns, Mulraney, Edwards, Clare|
|Forwards||Vanecek, MacLean, Wighton, Ikpeazu|
Hearts have suffered a double blow this week with the news that Callumn Morrison and the in-form Aidan Kenna have both been ruled out for the season.
Steven Naismith is not expected back in time for the Scottish Cup final, while Ben Garuccio and Demetri Mitchell are both sidelined, too.
Peter Haring and David Vanecek are not given a strong chance of proving their fitness.
Possible Hearts starting XI: Zlamal; Smith, Souttar, Berra, Burns; Lee, Bozanic, Djoum, Mulraney; Clare, Ikpeazu
|Goalkeepers||McGregor, Foderingham, Firth|
|Defenders||Tavernier, Goldson, Flanagan, Ross McCrorie, Katic, Barisic, Worrall, McAuley, Wallace, Polster|
|Midfielders||Dorrans, Jack, Kamara, Halliday, Coulibaly, Arfield, Grezda, Davis|
|Forwards||Candeias, Defoe, Lafferty, Middleton|
Rangers are without star man Alfredo Morelos, who remains banned, as does on-loan Liverpool winger Ryan Kent.
Many of their injury problems have started to clear, though Jamie Murphy remains sidelined. Borna Barisic is unlikely to feature.
Gareth McAuley and Graham Dorrans will be pushing for minutes, though probably not from the start.
Possible Rangers starting XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Katic, Goldson, Flanagan; Jack, Davis, Kamara; Candeias, Defoe, Arfield
Betting & Match Odds
Rangers are favourites to win according to bet365, who give odds of 8/13 on a victory for the Gers. Hearts are rated 9/2 to win and a draw is available at 14/5.
The Scottish Premiership title might be out of reach for Rangers, but for Steven Gerrard it is important that the campaign is finished in as strong a fashion as possible.
The Ibrox club were within touching distance of Celtic at New Year but have since faded badly and find themselves 11 points of their rivals with five matches remaining.
Success in the Scottish Cup and the League Cup has gone by the wayside, too, leading some to question just how successful Gerrard has been in his first season in management, during which he spearheaded the club’s unexpectedly strong European run.
Scott Arfield, who scored his first senior hat-trick as the Gers defeated Motherwell 3-0 a fortnight ago, remains confident that a strong foundation has been put in place to deny Celtic further league success in the years ahead.
“We had a big turnover at the start of the season and in January and it takes time for it all to cement and to get a trophy this year would have been a bonus with the number of players who came in and out,” he told Sky Sports.
“But next season we are definitely there for this, the enthusiasm is there and it has to be because you are representing millions of people around the planet.
“People are going to talk about how many points Celtic have won the league by this year.
“But I think it's very evident the last two [Old Firm] games particularly the one at Parkhead, the mentality was there… We showed that we are on course for something here.”
Hearts, meanwhile, are one match away from their first silverware since 2012 after booking a Scottish Cup final date with Celtic thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Inverness at Hampden last weekend.
“We've haven't been in the best of form recently, so it was important to play with a calmness and clear heads,” Levein told BBC Scotland.
“Once we got in front, I thought we were comfortable.”
Since, the Jambos boss has been frustrated by reports linking defender John Souttar to Rangers in the summer, describing it as “the usual crap”.
“I’m not sure John would want to go there,” he added.
Gerrard & Co. will be eager to ensure Levein regrets those words come full-time.