THURSDAY night’s first leg of the Europa League semi-finals will be one of the biggest games in Rangers’ recent history, and the Ibrox club do not have their troubles to seek going into the European clash.

The likes of Swedish central defender Filip Helander and Juventus loanee Aaron Ramsey will play no part in the tie and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side is looking a little short of options, particularly in the final third.

Talismanic forward Alfredo Morelos is out for the remainder of the season and won’t be there to lead the line, as he has done so impressively over the last few years for Rangers. Kemar Roofe, the second-choice centre-forward, is nursing an injury and won’t play in Germany and Cedric Itten, the only other recognised striker on the books at Ibrox, isn’t registered to play in Europe.

It leaves Van Bronckhorst with quite the conundrum. Someone will be tasked with playing outside their natural position and spearheading the Rangers attack in Leipzig, and there are no easy solutions for the Dutch manager to implement.

Below, we run through the candidates to feature in attack in Germany and weigh up their chances of being given the nod on Thursday night.

Fashion Sakala

The Zambian forward has blown hot and cold this season and this inconsistency is a mark against the 25-year-old. Sakala has so far provided 10 goals and five assists in his debut campaign in Glasgow’s south side but given he has made 43 appearances in all competitions, he isn’t exactly enjoying an especially prolific campaign.

It’s noteworthy that all of Sakala’s goal contributions have arrived in domestic competitions. In 10 European outings this season he has failed to provide a single goal or assist and this makes selecting Sakala as an out-and-out striker tricky to justify.

Additionally, as Saturday’s win over Motherwell showed, the former KV Oostende forward is most effective when operating further out wide and cutting inside. When playing more centrally at Fir Park, Sakala struggled to make an impression but vastly improved once he shifted out to the left and he had an important hand in both of Rangers’ second-half goals.

Scott Wright

Another who caught the eye on Saturday and strengthened his case for a starting spot in Leipzig. Like Sakala, Wright has found himself in and out of the first team this season and hasn’t always seized his opportunity when it has come along. But the former Aberdeen man will be in a confident mood following his display at the weekend.

Wright might not have been credited with Rangers’ opening goal against Motherwell but it was the winger’s desperate lunge at the ball that forced Liam Kelly into making an error that broke the deadlock. There was little doubt about the team’s second, though, as Wright combined well with Sakala to restore Rangers’ lead with a fine touch-and-hit that rifled into the bottom corner.

Wright’s direct dribbling style and agility mean he can find pockets of space in the final third but there are doubts over whether the forward has the physical presence to occupy two central defenders. He represents a useful option when counter-attacking but becomes less effective when Rangers’ build-up play is a little slower and more measured.

Ryan Kent

The English winger has often saved his best performances for the European stage and calls from fans for Kent to start as striker against Leipzig are perfectly understandable. With a goal and four assists in the Europa League this season and superb displays against the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Braga under his belt, the 25-year-old has plenty of pedigree.

There are two big issues with playing Kent as a centre-forward in Germany, however. The first is obvious: Kent has been arguably Rangers’ best player during their run to the semi-finals, and moving him out of position simply means that the team will be weakened elsewhere to accommodate the change.

The second is perhaps even more straightforward: Kent is not a reliable goal scorer and never has been. The former Liverpool winger has three goals in 40 appearances in all competitions this term and has only ever hit double digits in the end-of-season scoring chart’s on one occasion (last season, where Kent finished with 13).

Amad Diallo

The Manchester United loanee is another option available to Van Bronckhorst but it is one that it is difficult to envision the Rangers boss opting for. Diallo has played in fits and starts since arriving during the January transfer window but the simple truth is that he hasn’t offered enough to be given such a prominent role in so important a game.

Save for a goal against Ross County five minutes into his Rangers debut, Diallo has provided little during his time in Glasgow and throwing the 19-year-old into the starting line-up for such a big match would be an unnecessary gamble from Van Bronckhorst.

Joe Aribo

The final likely contender to fill in in Morelos and Roofe’s stead and perhaps the one with the strongest case of all, despite the fact that he is a natural midfielder. Van Bronckhorst and his predecessor Steven Gerrard both benefitted from the Nigeria internationalist’s versatility and Aribo looks equally at home playing in central midfield or on the wings.

Whether or not he can effectively lead the line in a European semi-final is an altogether different question but there is certainly a case to be made. Aribo’s physicality means he is unlikely to be bullied off the ball by opposition centre-backs and he also excels at using his frame to shield the ball.

The 25-year-old’s ball control and technical ability are another strong suit but it is Aribo’s ability to hold the play up and bring his team-mates into the game that could be most appealing to Van Bronckhorst. If the Rangers boss accepts that whoever he plays as striker is unlikely to score as it’s not their natural position, then the priority should be choosing a player who can provide an effective presence in the final third and help to create goals for others. In this sense, Aribo is the stand-out candidate.