The Old Firm Derby may be just around the corner but Glasgow Rangers are already facing several injury concerns. However, Steven Gerrard may also have an ace up his sleeve.
What’s the word?
According to The Herald, the Rangers boss wants to retain Allan McGregor as he has entered the final few months of his contract. The veteran goalkeeper made his second start of the Europa League campaign against Willem II and produced another clean sheet as the Gers reached the play-off rounds in style.
The former 42-cap Scotland international has had to play second fiddle to Jon McLaughlin for a large majority of the season so far but the 38-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon after he pulled off a string of saves to setup a showdown with Galatasaray. The Gers would go on to crush Galatasary 2-1 at the Ibrox, thanks to goals from Scott Arfield and James Tavernier.
Should McGregor start against Celtic?
McGregor made his first-team debut for his boyhood club all the way back in 2002. Since then, the Scotsman has made over 300 appearances for the Gers, winning a hat-trick of league titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011, whilst keeping 166 clean sheets in all competitions in the process, via Transfermarkt. He also played 42 games for Scotland until he announced his retirement from international football last year.
With that being said, should McGregor start against Celtic? Well, he certainly faces stiff competition from McLaughlin, who has kept seven clean sheets in eight consecutive games since signing from Sunderland in the summer, via Transfermarkt. But Gerrard heaped praise on the “superb” veteran shot-stopper whilst David Weir waxed lyrical about his old teammate in an interview with the BBC. The former Rangers defender said: “I was lucky to play with so many top goalkeepers. Leightons and Gorams and Nigel Martins – they’re top, top goalkeepers.”
“But Allan McGregor purely because, if you could pick one goalkeeper to make a save if your life was dependant on it, he’s just that type of guy.
“He rose to the occasion, he loves the big games, he’s a winner. When you were lining up for big games and you turned around and he was behind you, you always felt you had a chance.”
It is his big game experience that sets him apart from his closest rival and that could give Gerrard a significant advantage against Celtic. In fact, it speaks volumes that Gerrard has selected him for his Europa League squad. McLaughlin has faced Celtic three times in his career to date, conceding a staggering six goals so far, via Transfermarkt. Most importantly, the 33-year-old has only kept one clean sheet.
By comparison, McGregor has made 30 appearances against their arch-rivals, saving nine clean sheets so far, via Transfermarkt.
Gerrard will need his side to be at their very best when they take the trip to Celtic Park at the weekend and McGregor could well be given the nod off the back of his European performances in recent weeks.
AND in other news, Glasgow Rangers striker Cedric Itten gives Steven Gerrard cause for concern…