Rangers kicked off their action-packed weekend with a goalless draw against Brighton at Ibrox.

Steven Gerrard's side created the best of the opportunities on a scorching hot day in Glasgow but couldn't find a way past their Premier League opponents.

With an absence of goals to cheer, this will be a friendly encounter remembered only for the return of Nikola Katic and a highly-anticipated debut for Fashion Sakala.

Graham Potter's Seagulls are lagging behind the Premiership champions in their pre-season schedule and will put this largely uneventful 90 minutes straight into the "decent workout" category.

Gerrard will be enthused by so many of his players getting yet more minutes ahead of the real stuff but will want to see a clinical edge added to his side's play before long.

Ibrox was at its loudest for the arrival of Shane Duffy, with the former Celtic loanee's every touch met by ironic cheers.

With another outing against none other than Real Madrid to come in just under 24 hours, balance in selection was always going to be key for Rangers.

Steven Gerrard named a starting side containing few of his regulars, which afforded further opportunities to the likes of Jordan Jones, Stephen Kelly, Scott Wright and Cedric Itten.

Kelly looks a composed and capable midfielder and he didn't look a step out of place alongside established stars Scott Arfield and Glen Kamara on his return from an extended post-Euro 2020 break.

The Finn was hungry in the opening stages and Rangers started on the front foot.

Some ill-advised dithering from Brighton keeper Kjell Scherpen presented the home side with a first opening but Shane Duffy, the subject of ironic cheers on his return to Glasgow, recovered to clear Itten's effort off the line.

Scherpen regained his composure to keep out Leon Balogun and Jones as Rangers pushed for a first-half opener that ultimately did not come.

DRPod-Rangers (1).png

Get all the latest Rangers news sent straight to your Inbox every day by signing up to our newsletter.

We cover every morsel of information regarding your favourite club in the form of articles, videos and podcasts.

The newsletter will arrive every day at 12pm, giving you a round up of the best stories we've covered that in the last 24 hours.

To sign up, simply enter your email address into the link here.

And if you aren't already, make sure you join the conversation over on our Rangers Facebook group and Record Sport Instagram.

The introduction of Nikola Katic brought the warmest of cheers from the 8500-plus inside Ibrox after a torturous road back from a serious knee injury.

But it was a goal they really craved and Rangers remained the most likely as the half wore on.

Opportunities remained at a premium, however, despite the home side's greater intent.

John Lundstram came closest, whipping a left footed effort first time from the edge of the box, only to see it cannon off the crossbar.

Sakala had joined the fray by this point and early impressions suggest he has the potential to excite.

The Zambian loves operating on the shoulder and he should get plenty of opportunities with the likes of Steven Davis probing from deep.

The latter's introduction was marked by a trademark raking pass in search of Ryan Kent's out-to-in run but the offside flag denied the winger a chance to convert the opener.

Ianis Hagi did put the ball in the net for Rangers but the Romanian was left irked by the referee opting to, somewhat harshly, disallow it and ensure it finished goalless.

3 talking points

Chopping and changing

With Real Madrid in town on Sunday, Gerrard and his coaching team will have decided well in advance how they were going to utilise Rangers' 25-man squad over the two days.

The starting line-up against the Seagulls had an unfamiliar look, although perhaps not so much so if you've been following closely throughout pre-season.

Gerrard has given opportunities to the likes of Itten, Jones and Kelly, with the latter looking a particularly promising prospect.

After the interval, the manager opted initially for only three changes and was in no great hurry to make more.

Only following the hour mark did the likes of Sakala take to the stage, with those left on the bench until late on suggesting big hitters James Tavernier, Kent and Davis will take centre stage against Madrid.

Katic returns

The most welcome of those changes for Rangers fans was most certainly the return of Nikola Katic.

It's been 503 days since the Croatian centre-back last pulled on the jersey amid a long road back from a cruciate knee injury.

He missed the entirety of the club's Premiership title-winning campaign and to say he will be eager to make up for lost time would quite the understatement.

Rangers have taken their time in getting him back on the pitch but he looks in top shape and, at just 24, has plenty of time put an absolutely nightmare of a year behind him.

Kelly keeps impressing

His potential was evident to anyone keeping an eye on Ross County last term but the young midfielder from Port Glasgow looks determined to ensure it's at Ibrox he'll be playing his football next season.

Kelly looks a technically excellent midfielder and at just 21 he was among the most composed players on the pitch, even against Premier League opposition.

This pre-season will have given him a real taste of what the first team is all about but he does face competition in an already packed midfield which has added Lundstram and will welcome back Ryan Jack in the weeks to come.

Another loan could be in his near future but, if so, it won't be because he fell short over the last few weeks. Far from it.

Do you want an exclusive pre-season Rangers preview - both in your inbox and through your letterbox? Head over here to find out more and secure your copy.