Ross Wilson must stay firm with Glasgow Rangers goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin after former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips claimed that he may look to leave next month in a bid to secure a place in the Scotland squad for Euro 2020.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Phillips has reacted to McLaughlin’s comments about his lack of game time at Ibrox.
Rangers signed the former Hearts goalkeeper from Sunderland on a two-year deal in the summer. After being left on the bench for the game against Aberdeen at the start of the season, he started the next seven games in the Scottish Premiership but has found himself playing second-fiddle to Allan McGregor in recent weeks.
He returned to the starting line-up for the 4-0 win away at Falkirk in the Scottish Cup and pleaded with Gerrard after the game to give him more playing time to improve his chances for being selected in Steve Clarke’s squad for next summer.
However, despite his pleas, the veteran stopper has still found his chances hard to come by, as he has yet to feature for the first team since the 4-0 victory over Falkirk in the Betfred Cup.
Phillips said: “When a huge club like Rangers come calling it is very hard to turn them down but any player in his situation will know that he needs to be playing football.
“The Euros are fast approaching and he will think he has got an opportunity of getting into that squad. But he needs to play football to cement his place in Steve Clarke’s plans.
“I think he will have a slight regret because if he was at Sunderland he would, of course, be playing week in, week out.
“Come January he might try and get a loan move somewhere because he will want to play regular football to keep his place in that Scotland squad.”
Whilst McLaughlin may be angling for a loan move in January, Wilson must be firm with him if he can to try and convince him to stay at the club for the foreseeable future.
Former Celtic and St Mirren striker Frank McAvennie recently criticised his decision to join the club in the first place, saying: “McLaughlin picked the wrong team to go to, he shouldn’t have joined Rangers when there is a number one like McGregor. He is not going to get much game time.”
McGregor’s return from injury in September has coincided with Rangers’ remarkable run of form, which has seen McLaughlin fall by the wayside in recent weeks.
But the 33-year-old has been a dependable asset for Gerrard’s side, having kept eight clean sheets and only conceded two goals in the Premiership so far this season, via Transfermarkt.
His former Black Cats boss Jack Ross once described him as the best keeper in League One, as he said: “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.”
Wilson would struggle to find a backup option who is capable of offering even half of what McLaughlin brings to the table, as his experience at the top levels of the game sets him apart from the rest of his closest rivals, like academy keeper Brian Kinnear.
The Scotland international, who has also played for Bradford City and Burton Albion, spent a year with Hearts before moving to Sunderland, where he made 90 appearances, keeping 27 clean sheets and conceding just 87 goals in all competitions, via Transfermarkt.
Should McGregor succumb to injury, Gerrard would have the perfect replacement waiting in the wings.