Conviviality has been in short supply in what you could be forgiven for terming the big fight between Motherwell and Rangers at Fir Park this afternoon. But the Lanarkshire side’s keeper, the refreshing Trevor Carson, stands apart from all that. What the Northern Ireland’s No.1 has to say about Steven Gerrard’s impressive makeover of Rangers and the club’s latest signing Kyle Lafferty would all find favour with the Ibrox manager.
Carson – eschewing the distasteful language of his captain Peter Hartley – may maintain that the new-look Rangers will face their “biggest test” today and that their centre-backs “will know they have been in a game”. But the 30-year-old equally acknowledges that the challenge presented by Gerrard’s team will be more robust than last season.
“They’ve spent a lot of money and if you spend that sort of money you do expect to get improvements and quite clearly there have been improvements,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a tougher test than we faced last year against Rangers. Even when they beat us 2-1 in the opening game of last season, for me, the thought was: ‘Is that all they’ve got?’ But this year there’s definitely been an improvement, they’ve got a lot of talented players and, more importantly, players working for the shirt.”
Lafferty, who has played with Carson through the age groups at national level, comes into the latter bracket. “A great lad, always a great player and fair play to him he’s quite clearly stated he wanted that move and got it. Listen, though, I think we have more than enough in our strikers here for us to cause them problems rather than sitting here worrying about Kyle Lafferty, [Alfredo] Morelos, or whoever it will be. I will do my due diligence and go through what they are good and bad at. I think we’ve got more than enough to cause them problems.
“Laff at 16 as was just what he’s like now, a bit crazy, good lad and great player. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get with him. I think, especially for Northern Ireland over the years, he’s been a great player. He’s the type that does need that arm around his shoulder and needs to be loved and I think he’ll probably get that at Rangers, and I think he’ll be great for them. Our defenders on Sunday have played him before so there won’t be no real panic stations about how we’ll deal with Kyle Lafferty, Morelos or whoever. From the beginning of the week, we’ve known what to expect and have worked on a few things to cause them problems.”