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Saturday 2nd November 2019

Rangers Heart of Midlothian Betfred Cup

Rangers v Hearts - key players

A View From the Terrace's Craig Fowler looks at some of the players who could have a big impact on Sunday's Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden...

Ryan Jack (Rangers)
Jack was absent from the recent match between the sides and it showed. Without the influential link-man, Rangers were dragged into a battle with their Edinburgh opponents in a high-tempo, low-quality encounter. Upon his return to the team against Porto, it was clear to see his influence and he backed that up with another outstanding showing in midweek against Ross County, when he also scored twice. The way he uses and presses the ball is such an asset for Steven Gerrard's men.

Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
This one almost goes without saying. As evidenced by his performances in the Europa League, the Colombian is a superb talent and even top-notch defenders from the continent have a really tough time keeping him in check. This is why it was so surprising to see him struggle a little at Tynecastle in the last match - even though he scored the equaliser. He’ll be fully motivated to star at Hampden and set up a Betfred Cup final appearance.

Ryan Kent (Rangers)
Morelos' performance at Tynecastle wasn't helped by the lack of support he got from the attacking midfielders. Both Sheyi Ojo and Scott Arfield have been a bit short of form recently, which has made Kent's return from injury all the more timely. The £7m signing is yet to get fully going again after securing his permanent move but you wouldn't back against him putting in a memorable performance in front of a near sell-out crowd at the National Stadium. He certainly has the skill, speed and ingenuity to exploit Hearts in the final third.

Uche Ikpeazu (Hearts)
In the recent match at Tynecastle the hulking striker was more than a handful for both Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic. Failing to control the ex-Cambridge United man is no slight on any defender in the Scottish football. Ikpeazu's strength is unmatched in the SPFL and he's adept at backing into his marker, rolling around them and then motoring away. The flaw in his game is his finishing and decision making in the final third, both of which can be erratic. If they're not on Sunday, then he really is the sort of player who can win a match on his own.

Glenn Whelan (Hearts)
The Irish international has been a strong signing for the Tynecastle club this summer. Though he quietly goes about his business, his composure in possession and range of passing is vitally important for a team that can sometimes struggle to keep a hold of the ball. The wide Hampden Park pitch may stretch the physical capabilities of the 35-year-old, but if his team-mates can offer a bit of protection then he's someone who could help loosen the pressure on the underdogs.

Michael Smith (Hearts)
The career full-back has been excellent this season filling at centre-back, including a star showing in the recent draw against Rangers at Tynecastle. What he lacks in physical attributes he more than makes up for his reading of the game. Hearts have struggled to score goals recently, netting just twice in their last five matches, and it's likely to be more of the same on Sunday. If they are going to navigate past the Ibrox side, they'll need to be resolute in defence.

Travel advice for fans coming to the match -