Leon King could replace James Sands – FootballFanCast.com

Glasgow Rangers manager Michael Beale is already beginning to make the tough calls that predecessor Giovanni van Bronckhorst failed to do so during his reign.

The Englishman has let James Sands return to his parent club New York City, cutting short an 18-month loan spell early and this ability to let players leave if they aren’t contributing or underperforming will be crucial in the long run.

Sands didn’t exactly set the fire alight at Ibrox during his 12 months at the club, failing to find his best position, although he was routinely used as a centre-back when perhaps utilising the American in a defensive midfield role could have been a better option.

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His displays in the Champions League proved that he wasn’t quite up to the required standard for the club, averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.2/10, losing possession eight times on average per game, and winning just 41% of his ground duels, with his lack of physicality costing Rangers throughout the competition.

Beale may just be beginning the long overdue clear out and with Sands leaving a gap in the squad, youngster Leon Kind may find himself bumped back up a slot and this could be great news for the club going forward.

Could Leon King replace James Sands at Rangers?

King is no stranger to first-team action, having taken advantage of the defensive crisis at the beginning of the campaign to force his way into the starting XI on numerous occasions under Van Bronckhorst. The 19-year-old performed admirably across 11 Premiership appearances, averaging 50.5 touches and completing 88% of his attempted passes per match, suggesting his maturity on the ball and ability to constantly circulate the ball.

Utilising his physical presence, the 6 foot gem made 1.3 tackles per match while winning an impressive 56% of his total duels – 61% on the deck – and it’s no wonder he was dubbed a “Rolls-Royce” by former Ibrox defender Alan Hutton, who also claimed he was “very elegant on the ball” and his stats from earlier on this term certainly justify these comments.

King’s defensive strength, as shown by his success in physical battles, is far more impressive than what Sands showed during his time at Ibrox and the teenager could, therefore, be an upgrade on the American in that area of the game.

The centre-back made his debut under Steven Gerrard in 2020 before the Dutchman gave him a few more runouts toward the end of last season and there is little doubt his potential could lead him to be a future Rangers star.

With Sands gone and Filip Helander likely to leave come the end of the season, that leaves Beale with just Connor Goldson, Ben Davies, and John Souttar as his options at the heart of the defence.

Although yet to play under Beale due to the pairing of Goldson and Davies, the 42-year-old must finally unleash him and get the gem back up to speed ahead of 2023/2024.

Sands’ exit has provided the head coach with the perfect opportunity to hand King more first-team minutes and it is a chance that the youngster must take in the coming weeks and months…