Steven Gerrard has hailed the considerable influence of Allan McGregor on his young Rangers squad as he heads into a hectic schedule of 11 matches in 35 days that could shape his side’s season.
Gerrard has described McGregor as world class in terms of his ability as a goalkeeper but insists McGregor is equally important as a mentor and motivator inside the Rangers dressing room and is predicting the 36-year-old may prolong his second spell at Ibrox.
Rangers resume Premiership duties today at home to Livingston with Villarreal visiting next Thursday before a trip to Tynecastle to play Hearts the following Sunday and McGregor will be key.
Referring to McGregor’s vital save for Scotland late in the game against Israel on Tuesday, Gerrard said: “What a fantastic save.
“It was world class. It was no surprise to me because I’ve seen it on many occasions so far this season and over the years.
“That’s the reason why he’s the best keeper in Scotland, in my opinion.
“His form hasn’t surprised me, neither has his influence. For me, he’s a world-class goalie. He has experience and know-how.
“You can’t put that into a goalkeeper. It’s a specialist area, experience is key. Not many keepers would have been able to make that save in that type of game.
“We are lucky to have Allan back at Rangers. We are aware of his age and we need to enjoy him while he’s here because with all due respect he’s not going to be around for very long.
“But if he keeps doing what he’s doing, there’s no reason why he can’t carry on past his present contract.”
Livingston defender Craig Halkett, meanwhile, admits he will have revenge on his mind when he returns to Ibrox for the first time since being told he was not good enough for Rangers.
The 23-year-old centre-back made his way up through the youth ranks at Rangers but, in January 2016, he was told former manager Mark Warburton had decided he was not cut out for the first team.
Halkett has gone on to become a key figure for Livi, helping them claim back-to-back promotions.
He has already tasted victory over his old side when Gary Holt’s men recorded a 1-0 upset at the Tony Macaroni Arena two months ago.
He said: “I think Saturday will be totally different to the game here.
“There will be obviously 50,000 fans there for the game at Ibrox and they are in really good form at home.
“So it will be a very different challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it.
“It will be the first time I’ve been back at Ibrox since I left so I suppose the game has a wee bit more meaning for myself.
“In the back of my mind will be the thought that I want to prove a few people wrong and make them realise that they should have kept me at the club, but I’m just going out to focus on my job for Livingston.”