Rangers: McGregor spectre always there for impressive McLaughlin as he deals with “noise” surrounding rival

The number on the back of Jon McLaughlin’s jersey cannot help his efforts to establish himself as Rangers’ No. 1 in people’s minds.

Perceptions will surely alter providing he continues to reach the level demonstrated against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night.

McLaughlin kept Rangers in the Champions League play-off tie in the second half. The Rangers goalkeeper wears the No 33 shirt but has replaced Allan McGregor as current first choice with the minimum of fuss. However, he admits it will take longer before he becomes generally regarded as the undisputed Ibrox No.1.

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McGregor’s continued presence, albeit on the bench, has simply increased the scrutiny placed on the 34-year-old’s performances. It must be akin to succeeding Frank Sinatra on stage while knowing the superstar singer was still waiting in the wings.

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“I don’t think you can get away from that,” said McLaughlin. “There is a lot said and a lot of noise around it. I suppose that comes with the territory at Rangers. It’s not as if we didn’t know that would be the case. Of course all I can do is be the best version of myself, I can’t be somebody else.”

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So far, so good seems a fair assessment. McLaughlin kept PSV at bay as Rangers rocked slightly earlier this week. One save to deny Philipp Max was particularly impressive and underlined his acute sense of anticipation. He made another good block from Joey Veerman shortly before Rangers went ahead after opposite number Walter Benitez allowed Tom Lawrence’s speculative free kick to slip through his grasp.

People seem to be waiting for McLaughlin to make a mistake and give Van Bronckhorst a question to answer. The ‘keeper believes it is simply a consequence of playing at a club like Rangers. But he also acknowledges that it’s not as if he has replaced just anyone.

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Jon McLaughlin (L) saves at the feet of PSV's Philipp Max during Tuesday night's 2-2 Champions League play-off draw with PSV (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

McGregor has been phenomenal in two spells at Ibrox and even now, aged 40, some will regard him as a more credible first-choice than McLaughlin.

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“It’s ramped up even further in the eyes of a lot of people and it’s always going to be a talking point and something that can be used," he said.

“So of course I would be lying if I said that I didn’t know it was there in the background. But, again, I knew it was coming. It’s no shock, it’s no surprise and the life of a goalkeeper means you’ve got to have that thick skin.”

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McLaughlin has proved an able deputy since arriving from Sunderland and is now excelling in the role of first choice. It’s sometimes forgotten that he made as many as 16 appearances last season, including an away clash at Europa League group rivals Lyon and Scottish Cup final win over Hearts, although McGregor came on in the dying moments as he contemplated retirement. McLaughlin also played on 14 occasions the previous season.

“I’m not a debutant, I have tried to apply myself the same way every single time I have played for this club,” he said.

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“Again, I can’t do a lot about what people out there say. People can have their opinions, people can have their conversations and they are free to do that. It’s out of my control. The only thing I can do is give my best every single time.”

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