The mood is at an all-time high at Glasgow Rangers ahead of another pivotal week for Steven Gerrard’s side.
As soon as the fulltime whistle blew at Ibrox on Thursday night social media was flooded with messages from delighted Rangers fans.
Rangers emerged victorious from another seven-goal thriller with Royal Antwerp to reach the last 16 of the Europa League for the second successive season.
That they did so without the services of the club’s top-scorers James Tavernier and Kemar Roofe makes this result even more remarkable.
Gerrard recalled Nathan Patterson for a place on the bench against Antwerp and the teenage right-back almost immediately repaid the favour after he scored with only his second touch of the ball shortly after the break.
Assuming they win their next two games in the Scottish Premiership, Gerrard’s men would travel to Celtic Park knowing they only need a point against their arch-rivals to lift the famous trophy.
With both Livingston and St Mirren to face in the coming days, the Light Blues will need to be at their best defensively if they are to stand any chance of picking up all three points, and in order to do so Patterson’s return could prove crucial.
Rangers had previously shelved plans in the summer to sign a new right-back following the scintillating form of Tavernier, and now Patterson must step up to the plate and ensure they do not change their minds.
Patterson remains an impressive prospect for the club, but a recent Covid-19 breach appeared to have undone all of his hard work, as it cast doubts about his future at his boyhood club.
However, the 19-year-old full-back showed he was decent getting forward after scoring his maiden goal for the club against Antwerp, while his overall performance at Ibrox showcased his uncompromising defensive style, with a series of vital clearances, last-ditched tackles and ball recoveries.
Speaking after the game, Gerrard was effusive in his praise for his young charge, saying: “It’s been quite a week and it should be the biggest learning curve of that boy’s career.
“He’s a fantastic kid and he comes from a lovely family. He needs to understand what the people top to bottom at this football club think of Nathan and the opportunity that he’s got.
“He needs to learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen again because you can see tonight he’s a wonderful footballer with a big future ahead of him.
“As someone who’s got four kids myself I want to be someone who gives people a second chance. As a human being I have made similar mistakes myself. I hope he takes on board what we have said to him this week and that he learns from it.”
With the skipper still injured and Leon Balogun also limping off the pitch against Antwerp, Gerrard must now hope his punishment from the SFA isn’t too severe, while he is in contention to start against Livingston later next week.
Either way, Tavernier’s injury has earned Patterson a shot at redemption as it allowed him to showcase his abilities in the Europa League.
AND in other news, Rangers can’t afford to lose Jermain Defoe despite exit rumours…