Heart of Midlothian travel to Ibrox on Sunday afternoon looking to bounce back from a 4-1 defeat at home to Celtic in their previous Premiership outing.

Below, James Cairney and Scott McIntosh examine the selection options available to Steven Naismith and try to predict the starting line-up for the encounter at Ibrox.

Will Naismith change the team's shape? Who should start out wide to give Hearts the best chance of success? And with Alex Lowry unable to feature, who will add creativity in midfield?

READ MORE: Rangers preparations, Celtic positives and Uganda eligibility - Toby Sibbick Q&A

James Cairney

Hearts Standard:

Steven Naismith has spoken in the build-up to this fixture of the need for his Hearts side to be braver on the ball and to exert more control over proceedings if they are to leave Ibrox with anything to show for their efforts, and so I think we’ll see the former Scotland internationalist opt for a 4-3-3, with one midfielder sitting deeper than the rest. Switching to a back three is surely a tempting option for the Hearts boss after last weekend’s 4-1 loss to Celtic but playing more defensively can be asking for trouble when playing away at either half of the Old Firm.

Craig Gordon and Craig Halkett appear to still be a few weeks away from a return to first-team action, and so the defence all but picks itself at this point. Zander Clark will start between the sticks, and I expect Hearts to line up with a back four of Alex Cochrane, Kye Rowles, Frankie Kent and Toby Sibbick.

Things are slightly harder to predict in midfield. Alex Lowry’s unavailability necessitates a change in here, and I don’t think Calem Nieuwenhof has done himself any favours with his below-par display against Celtic last week. I think we could see Beni Baningime replace the Australian in the line-up and to play in the deep midfield roles – the former Everton man’s ability to resist the press is a handy asset at a venue like Ibrox – and I would expect Cammy Devlin and Jorge Grant to get the nod in the two midfield positions either side of Baningime, with Grant adding some much-needed creativity.

Yutaro Oda looked lively when he came off the bench against Celtic last week, and the Japanese winger has the work-rate and close control to cause Rangers some problems. Oda’s direct nature also makes him well-suited to these types of games, and so I think he’ll come into the team at right wing at the expense of Kenneth Vargas, with Alan Forrest deployed on the left and Lawrence Shankland leading the line in attack.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Cochrane, Rowles, Kent, Sibbick; Grant, Baningime, Devlin; Forrest, Shankland, Oda.

READ MORE: Responding to Celtic loss and what to expect from Rangers - Steven Naismith Q&A

Scott McIntosh

Hearts Standard:

Similar to last week, Rangers' preferred shape and attacking threat means that switching to a three-man defence could prove to be a tempting option for Naismith. But, given the optics that can be associated with a back 3/5, I’d expect the Hearts boss to stick with the 4-2-3-1 that we have mainly implemented throughout the season. Rangers will no doubt keep a central midfield three-  which, on paper, could provide us with a similar concerns to last week - but I do not believe that Todd Cantwell, Nico Raskin and John Lundstrum offer the same flexibility and running off the ball that saw Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley cause so much havoc last week.

The team’s identity has been a puzzling topic for fans and pundits to work out but in terms of personnel, large areas of the starting line-up pick themselves. Clark will start in goals with Gordon still a few weeks off returning to first-team duties. Stephen Kingsley will probably come back in, which will allow Cochrane a chance to work on his fitness and I can’t see Naismith looking beyond Rowles, Kent and Sibbick to make up the rest of the back four.

Lowry will be unavailable, which represents an opportunity to bring in either Peter Haring or Baningime and push Devlin into an advanced position to put pressure on Raskin, who will be trying to dictate play. Calem Nieuwenhof, Sunday apart, has been a consistent performer over the past few weeks and the Australian is surely nailed on to start and I think we could see Baningime restored to the starting XI to partner him. The 25-year-old’s ability to beat the press and retain the ball with an opponent breathing down his neck could be very useful although question marks remain regarding his fitness - but the only way to improve this is through games.

On the flanks, Forrest's ability to be the jack-of-all-trades may see him switched over to the left to open up a space for Oda to come back in after a positive cameo last week. Both Oda and Forrest possess enough pace and direct running to hurt Rangers on the counter-attack. Shankland will be the focal point in attack but I expect the striker to drop deep which may allow the two wide options to play up top as a two to try and stretch the Ibrox sides backline.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Kingsley, Rowles, Kent, Sibbick; Nieuwenhof, Baningime; Forrest, Devlin, Oda; Shankland.

READ MORE: The key changes that show how Hearts' first-team regulars are evolving

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