John Souttar’s commanding display against Hibs felt like a significant moment in his Rangers journey. 

It’s not been plain sailing for the 26-year-old since moving to Ibrox last summer. Injuries have plagued Souttar’s career and a stress fracture to his ankle deprived him of seven months this campaign. 

Rangers have been patient with his rehabilitation, prioritising long-term fitness, with Michael Beale hoping to reap the benefits next season. 

With Connor Goldson ruled out for ten weeks, Souttar revelled in his leadership role amongst an untested back four against Hibs, strolling through the ninety minutes at Easter Road. 

Partnered with the inexperienced Leon King, Souttar stepped up impressively to earn rave reviews from supporters and boss Beale - who labelled him "outstanding". 

It’s unquestionable that Souttar possesses the ability to become a starting centre-back at Rangers. 

Physically imposing, aerially dominant, assertive in possession and authoritative - he has all the ingredients to be a top centre-back. 

The only question mark has been over his ability to avoid injury but Rangers will hope to succeed where Hearts failed. 

Against Hibs, Souttar displayed the characteristics which should leave Rangers fans optimistic about the future.

Firstly, It was intriguing that Souttar was deployed at right centre-back with King on the left.

When partnered with Goldson, Souttar has played on the left side and looked quite comfortable progressing the ball, whether through surging runs or incisive passing. 

READ MORE: Why Rangers' problem solving was key to Hibs win

While King is comfortable in possession, it’s likely that Beale preferred Souttar on the right of the pair to utilise his long-passing ability. 

Goldson is renowned for his diagonal passing and Souttar's capability on the ball stood out all afternoon on Sunday, including a number of effective switches of play. 

The Scotland international's use of the ball was superb against Hibs and his passing variety was a real boost for the visitors, allowing them to go around the narrow block the hosts defended in.

James Tavernier highlighted Souttar’s ability to pass through the lines in his post-match interview and he always looked to be proactive in possession. His passes from the match are included below.


Souttar always tried to play forward - when realistic - and rarely gave away possession. Only losing the ball four times across the ninety minutes. 

READ MORE: John Souttar and the importance of character at Rangers - Jonny McFarlane

His ability to play pinpoint diagonal passes resulted in the opening goal.

Here, after surveying his options, Souttar picks out Todd Cantwell with an accurate long pass which resulted in the Ranges midfielder being fouled and Tavernier converting a brilliant free-kick. 

The defender pulled off these passes repeatedly, picking out Ridvan Yilmaz pushing up from left-back in this frame.

The visitor's full-backs pushed high repeatedly to offer width, while John Lundstram and Ryan Jack offered security at the back.

Lundstram’s role in particular was fascinating in the build-up phase. The Englishman will quite often drop into the channel between Souttar and Tavernier to almost become a third centre-back. 

The midfielder has performed this role in the past and provides Rangers with better passing options to progress the ball from deep.

It was particularly effective against Hibs as it provided a dilemma for Elie Youan, was he to track Tavernier’s run or look to pressurise Lundstram?

Ianis Hagi’s goal also stemmed from Lundstram dropping to collect possession in this area before playing a longer, diagonal ball towards Fashion Sakala. 

Rangers controlled possession throughout but Souttar was robust defensively when required. As the graphic below displays, he won 17 out of his 19 defensive duels and that was a major factor in Rangers limiting Hibs’ attacking threat. 


The hosts didn’t register a single shot on target until Robby McCrorie made a save from Harry McKirdy in the 90th minute, with Hibs scoring from the resulting corner. 

Souttar was visibly furious with Rangers’ lapse of concentration from that set-piece and he reaffirmed this frustration in his post-match interview. 

Kevin Nisbet is one of the best strikers in the division but Souttar dominated the Hibs striker in a number of aerial duels and also helped nullify the threat of Youan. 

Beale’s tactical plan, to afford his full-backs licence to get forward, can leave a vulnerability in the wide areas for the opposition to exploit. 

Youan attempted to exploit the space behind Tavernier in the first half and it was the avenue where Hibs looked most dangerous. 

But Souttar was alert to the danger and his positional intelligence allowed him to snuff out the threat on a number of occasions. 

In the below image, Tavernier is caught high and Newell’s run into the space vacated is tracked by Lundstram. The Hibs man still gets in a cross before Souttar intercepts at the front post. 

Youan burst past Tavernier in the example below, but Souttar showed impressive pace to get across before using his physicality to brush off the Hibs attacker. 

Throughout, it was evident that Souttar is growing in confidence at the club. It's taken time, but the future for both parties looks to be a bright one.