There could hardly be a trickier assignment for Hibs to recommence their top six bid than an away day at Ibrox.

There's no sugar-coating it. Nick Montgomery's side have struggled against Rangers this season. They went down 4-0 at Ibrox in October, followed by a meek 3-0 at Easter Road in January. A 2-0 defeat in the Scottish Cup quarter-final earlier this month was more spirited, but still not enough to seriously lay a glove on Phillipe Clement's team, and the main talking point from that encounter was the two red cards shown to Jordan Obita and Nathan Moriah-Welsh.

That requires changing if Hibs are to take anything from the second trip to Govan of the campaign, and it would go a long way to ensuring they finish in the top half of the table. Just three matches remain until the Premiership split, and this is undoubtedly the toughest in Hibs' schedule.

Montgomery has overseen an improvement of late, with Hibs unbeaten in their last six, but his tenure could use a real statement result to take it to the next level. There will be plenty on the manager's mind this week as players filter back from international duty, and he faces some tricky decisions about how to set up his team...

Cadden or Miller?

After the last run of fixtures, it's safe to assume that Chris Cadden's managed return to action has come to a close, with the 27-year-old thrust in for three consecutive fixtures, influenced in part by the absence of Lewis Miller. Montgomery could hardly speak high enough of Cadden's mental fortitude in battling his way back to regular first-team football, and that stretch of games will, to the player, likely felt like the moment he became a footballer once more.

There's no doubt he would relish stepping up his comeback even further with a start at Ibrox, but Miller's potential return will give the manager a choice to make. The Australian did not go on international duty after pulling up with a muscle problem in the 2-2 draw with Ross County, and Montgomery will provide an update on his availability in his Friday press conference this week.

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If fit, there may be a temptation to deploy Miller as the more natural defender of the two, but Cadden did himself no harm with his performance despite defeat to the same opponent in the Scottish Cup quarter-final earlier this month. He was also a noticeable attacking threat last time out against Livingston, albeit there's an obvious caveat in that this is a much different proposition. It will, perhaps, come down to what Montgomery wants from his full-backs on the day - and we may even see both get time on the pitch.

4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1?

A more compact midfield is the obvious go-to against a side particularly strong in that department, and the 4-3-3 did serve Hibs well against Celtic back in February. In this instance, it could be a case of personnel dictating the shape - but who does the manager go for? Joe Newell, as captain, will surely play, and Nectar Triantis has been a revelation since stepping out of the back four and into defensive midfield.

He's shown a real aptitude in handling the ball under pressure and was perhaps Hibs' best player in the cup tie against Rangers at Easter Road. For those reasons, it feels likely he will be in Montgomery's starting XI, and deservedly so. The question then becomes, does the manager want to include Nathan Moriah-Welsh for extra solidity, or Emiliano Marcondes for added threat? There's certainly an argument for one or the other. Montgomery opted for both - with Emiliano as a false nine - in the cup defeat but that seems to have been a short-lived experiment, and one that didn't maximise his attributes.

Although Emiliano doesn't shirk defensive duties by any means, Moriah-Welsh would bring more aggression to the table. Dropping one of your most creative outlets and marquee January signings, though, might be viewed as a backward step before the game has even kicked off. If it's to be Emiliano getting the nod, expect more of a 4-2-3-1, while bringing in Moriah-Welsh would signal a switch to that more compact 4-3-3.

Going for the latter also has implications for the full-back argument above, as having an extra six or eight provides extra defensive cover if a left or right-back steps on.

Attacking choices

One reason we're unlikely to see the return of Emiliano as false nine is the recent impact of Adam Le Fondre as the team's focal point. The 37-year-old looks every inch a player who has been desperate for a chance to impress following his return from a knee injury.

It's unclear, as yet, whether Dylan Vente will be available for Ibrox, but Le Fondre continuing as number nine feels the more likely option, even if the Dutchman is back from injury. There's a simple effectiveness to Le Fondre's game which has suited Hibs over the last game-and-a-half; he takes minimal touches, plays quickly, and his movement is exceptionally intelligent. Hibs struggled to get up the pitch during the last league defeat by Rangers and this time out it will likely be down to Le Fondre to try to retain possession when the ball comes his way. 

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On the flanks, Martin Boyle could be available provided the medical team is happy with his recovery from concussion sustained in the cup match against the Gers and, if so, it will be up to Montgomery to decide between him and Elie Youan. Myziane Maolida has nailed down that place on the left, which creates an interesting competition on the opposite flank. Youan's goal contributions for the season hit 20 against Livingston (10 goals, 10 assists), but that costly lapse in concentration against Ross County could feasibly be on the manager's mind when he selects an XI this weekend. Again, it's a balance of priorities for Montgomery if he has both players available, and certainly an intriguing one.

Ultimately though, whoever gets the nod to start for Hibs - as well as those who are tasked with coming off the bench - will need to be alert, switched-on, aggressive without being reckless, and confident if they are to take anything from a tough encounter.