Gary McAllister says Rangers have made decision on James Tavernier and penalties

Gary McAllister has long since come to terms with the fact he will feature prominently on any list of high-profile penalty failures.

Rangers' James Tavernier, left, is likely to be relieved of penalty duties, with Jermain Defoe a contender to replace him. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Even 23 years down the line, the spot-kick which former Scotland captain McAllister saw saved by England goalkeeper David Seaman at Wembley during the Euro 96 finals remains a prime example of the potential anguish those who take on such responsibility can face.

But, while Rangers assistant manager McAllister can certainly empathise with James Tavernier over his current woes from 12 yards, he hinted strongly that the decision has been taken to remove the skipper from penalty duties.

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Tavernier missed his third penalty of the season in 
Sunday’s 2-1 win over Motherwell, following previous unconverted attempts against Feyenoord and Progres Niederkorn.

While none proved costly in the outcome of those fixtures for Rangers, they have puy added scrutiny on Tavernier, whose general form has unquestionably shaded in recent weeks.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said in the aftermath of the Motherwell match that he would take 48 hours to consider whether Tavernier would be retained as penalty taker.

McAllister confirmed the issue has now been resolved, although he was understandably unwilling to provide any indication as to who will step forward should Rangers be awarded a penalty at Ross County tonight.

“Time will tell you on that one,” said McAllister.

“I don’t want to give anything away. It would be unwise for me to give any clues to the 
people in Dingwall about who’s going to be taking penalties but it’s an issue that’s been sorted.

“Listen, I missed penalties during my career and it’s part of the territory. There are greater players than James or me who have missed penalties. Some of the greatest players on the world scene have missed penalties.

“It takes strength of character, when the next one comes around, to step forward, but there does come a moment – and I had penalty duties taken off me at times – when the situation arises.

“James’ record with penalties has been very good. Recently, it’s not been so good. We’ve addressed it, but I don’t want to give that away.”

Tavernier and top scorer Alfredo Morelos, one of the contenders to take on penalty duties, are among the few survivors in the Rangers squad from their previous visit to Ross County two seasons ago.

While the jaunt to the 
Highlands may come as an eye-opener for some of their new recruits, McAllister believes the Global Energy Stadium will offer a positive environment as the Ibrox side look to build momentum in the title race.

“It’s a nice ground, a good pitch and I think there’ll be a lot of Rangers fans there, so we’re looking forward to it,” he added.

“The games just keep coming thick and fast right now and players like that. They much prefer to play games than train.”

Rangers have been heavily reliant on their prolific and consistently rotated strikers, Morelos and Jermain Defoe, for their goals so far this 
season, with the pair having scored 29 between them already.

McAllister admits they would welcome more goals from their midfield players, who have contributed only three goals in the first 10 league games, but it’s not an issue causing him major concern.

“It’s a massive plus to get goals from midfield,” he said. “But if you look at it a 
little deeper, the way we play is with a three-man midfield and three-pronged attack. So the fact the forwards are scoring is due to the fact the three guys in behind are doing their job and serving them.”

“But that doesn’t stop us from thinking we can get a goal from the middle of the park. It is such an added boost to get a goal from midfield. I played there myself and it was always about scoring goals as well as creating them.

“There is the new position now of being a really deep midfielder and that guy cant be expected to score goals. But the other two certainly can look to assist and score.”

Rangers have doubts over goalkeeper Allan McGregor and winger Brandon Barker who picked up knocks during the win over Motherwell. McAllister also suggested that £7 million summer signing Ryan Kent may sit out the trip, possibly with Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden in mind.

“Ryan is someone we are still managing carefully after the injury he suffered earlier in the season,” said McAllister. “Brandon might have an outside chance, while we are hopeful Allan might make it.”