Gabriel Agbonlahor has claimed Jon McLaughlin could leave Glasgow Rangers in January, but the 54-time Scottish champions simply can’t afford to let the 6 ft 2 in colossus go.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former England and Aston Villa striker believes McLaughlin needs to be playing regularly to improve his chances of being named in Scotland’s squad for Euro 2020.
The 33-year-old has kept ten clean sheets in eleven appearances so far this season, as he earned his 11th start of the season against Lech Poznan in the Europa League on Thursday night as Steven Gerrard rested several key men, including veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor, ahead of the Premiership clash with Dundee United at the weekend.
But Agbonlahor has tipped McLaughlin to look for a temporary exit to get some minutes under his belt before next year’s European Championships, he said:
“As a goalkeeper, if you’re a number two goalkeeper you’re not going to come on.
“If you’re a number two striker, you might come on in a game but number two goalkeepers, unless there’s an injury, you’re not going to come on.
“If he wants to play for Scotland then he definitely needs to be playing football.
“It might be something he looks to do for sure.”
But if you take a look at the situation from Rangers’ point of view, McLaughlin is a player they simply cannot afford to lose.
Even though Gerrard’s side are currently set with their first-choice stopper, an injury crisis or coronavirus outbreak could quickly cause problems at the back.
And yes, they have conceded just five goals in 17 games in the Premiership, but the Scotland international has still played his part as he has only conceded two goals and saved eight clean sheets in the top flight, via Transfermarkt.
Apart from McGregor and McLaughlin, Andy Firth is the only other keeper at the club, but the youngster is an inexperienced 24-year-old who is yet to make a sole appearance in the Premiership so far this season.
Former Black Cats boss Jack Ross once described McLaughlin as the best keeper in League One, saying: “I’m obviously biased and there might be other managers that say it, but I believe I have the best goalkeeper in the league.
“He was outstanding for me last season, he is such a low-maintenance player in terms of how he goes about his business, and he is unflappable.”
If the 33-year-old was to leave the Govan-based Glaswegian giants, that would leave Gerrard dangerously short of backup options, and he simply cannot afford to take that risk as the Gers seek to stop Celtic from winning an unprecedented tenth title in a row.
AND in other news, Rangers must recall Josh McPake in January…