Rangers continued their preparations for the new campaign with a goalless draw against Standard Liege in Holland.

Philippe Clement’s side travelled to the continent on Sunday after beginning their pre-season schedule at Auchenhowie last month and have spent recent days being put through their paces.

This bounce game was played behind closed doors at the training base. Clement utilised most of his squad but there were some notable absentees as valuable match minutes were banked and new recruits were seen for the first time.

A friendly with Ajax is next on the agenda before Rangers return to Glasgow. At a time when supporters have many questions about matters off the pitch, they now have reason to be discuss and debate issues on the park.

Rangers first half XI: Butland, King, Souttar, Davies, Ridvan, Diomande, Barron, McCausland, Lawrence, Cortes (Fraser), Dessers

Rangers second half XI: Butland, Balogun, Goldson, Nsiala, Jefte, McKinnon, Raskin, Wright, Dowell, Fraser (Matondo), Curtis (Lowry)

Clement hands out debuts and gives kids a chance

Connor Barron was the only new recruit that started against Liege. Hamza Igamane was not part of the squad that travelled to Holland, while keeper Liam Kelly only arrived at the team base on Wednesday afternoon. He joined the group on the sidelines as Nils Koppen, the director of football recruitment, also cast his eye over events as he continues to work to strengthen the squad ahead of the new campaign.

Barron started alongside Mohamed Diomande as a pairing that could be the foundation of the midfield was given an early chance to get acquainted. The sight of Diomande pulling up when under no pressure just before the break was a brief concern, but the Ivorian walked back across the pitch and to the dressing room unaided.

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In the second half, Jefte, the Brazilian left-back, and former AC Milan defender Clinton Nsiala got some minutes in their legs. There were also outings for some of the youngsters. Robbie Fraser was introduced after 30 minutes, and Cole McKinnon and Findlay Curtis started at the break as Clement changed every outfield player.

Familiar faces also get a run-out

Clement spoke about last season being the end of a cycle. That process started with the departure of five players – Jon McLaughlin, Borna Barisic, Ryan Jack, John Lundstram and Kemar Roofe – and Robby McCrorie became the latest man out of the door when he completed his move to Kilmarnock on Wednesday. Supporters have been expecting more of an overhaul, though.

It is, of course, easier said than done to get players in and out. It is understood that there is nothing imminent in terms of new recruits and Rangers do not expect to add to the squad in the coming days. Suggestions that Cagliari are closing in on Cyriel Dessers have also been downplayed.

Dessers was one of those who featured in the first half. He was supported by Ross McCausland, Tom Lawrence and Oscar Cortes. Jack Butland started in goal with a back four of Leon King, who featured at right-back, John Souttar, Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz.

Leon Balogun was the stand-in at right-back for the second period. Connor Goldson partnered Nsiala and the likes of Nicolas Raskin and Scott Wright were also involved. Clement is not short of depth. The strength of the squad remains the key question.

Don’t read anything into the result

The caveats that come with every pre-season fixture certainly applied to this one. This was not a match for supporters to read too much, if anything, into. It was a box ticking exercise for Clement and his staff as Rangers trained in the morning and then pulled on their boots once again in the afternoon.

The first 45 minutes was, as expected, a low-key affair. Jack Butland palmed away an Isaac Price effort before Cortes came close with an effort from distance and Lawrence fired over. Late in the half, Butland made a terrific block to deny Marlon Fossey after Liege worked the ball well inside the area and the American got a strike away from a tight angle.

At the same end after the interval, McKinnon came close to the breakthrough. His drive from the edge of the area was deflected and keeper Matthieu Epolo did well to turn it to safety. A meandering run from Fraser resulted in Epolo being forced into action minutes later. Price should have opened the scoring with a header from close range and Rabbi Matondo thought he had earned a corner when cutting in and seeing his strike deflected wide.

Rangers finished in the ascendancy. They were denied a winner when a lovely Lowry strike came back off Epolo’s right-hand post and the keeper blocked a Dowell effort after the midfielder found space inside the area.

Clean bill of health important

There was not a subject that Clement discussed more last season than the injury situation at Ibrox. The crisis undermined his chances of success and the Belgian knows better than anyone that a repeat this season is unsustainable in football and financial terms.

At this stage of the campaign, it is all about fitness and sharpness. The sight of Cortes back on the pitch would have been a pleasing one for Clement as the Colombian appeared for the first time in public since sustaining a season-ending injury at Rugby Park. He was replaced by Fraser after half an hour as his workload was carefully managed and minutes were also given to Alex Lowry as he returned to the first team fold after missing the second half of the season.

Two of the other long-term absentees last term – Danilo and Zak Lovelace – watched the entire outing from the seats at the side of the park. Captain James Tavernier joined them throughout, as did Dujon Sterling. There was no place in either half for Todd Cantwell. This was a reminder of how many players Clement has at his disposal.

Ajax test to come on Saturday

This fixture was a means to an end for Clement. The next outing will be bigger test for Rangers and give supporters a chance to see their side in action as Rangers head north to face Ajax. Over the next fortnight, they will also be on the road to face Manchester United at Murrayfield and take on Birmingham City and Union Berlin ahead of the big kick-off against Hearts.

Suggestions online that the trip to St Andrews was in doubt were dismissed by club sources and the friendly fixture will go ahead as scheduled. Those outings will ask different questions of the side and Clement will expect to see physical, technical and tactical levels steadily increase as the minutes are banked and matches are ticked off.

In terms of the approach, this was as expected from Clement’s side. Rangers set up in the same 4-2-3-1 formation that became so familiar following his appointment in October. The performance and the result were immaterial. Rangers are off and running this term.