Rangers can take a step closer to the Scottish Premiership title on Wednesday night and manager Steven Gerrard can give his side a boost by unleashing 19-year-old right-back Nathan Patterson from the start.
In the absence of captain James Tavernier, who is currently sidelined through injury, the former Liverpool midfielder opted to deploy centre-back Leon Balogun at right-back for the Europa League game against Royal Antwerp in midweek.
However, the Nigerian international looked uncomfortable at times at Hampden Park, with Antwerp’s left wing-back Jordan Lukaku causing a lot of problems down his side, which would lead to the Belgian side’s equaliser, as Lukaku nutmegged him before crossing for Lior Refaelov to score.
The former Brighton man was then forced off at half-time after picking up a knock, with Patterson sent on as his replacement.
The academy graduate made an instant impact, taking just 17 seconds to restore Rangers’ lead after racing on to a through ball from Alfredo Morelos before finishing superbly.
It was something of a redemption for the young defender, who was one of five Gers’ players found guilty of breaking the current lockdown guidelines by attending a party, earning a club fine in the process.
Patterson is young and will learn from his mistakes, and after scoring his first goal for the club on his seventh appearance, he deserves another chance to show what he can do when Rangers take on Livingston at the Ibrox on Wednesday.
After the game, pundit Chris Sutton was full of praise for the youngster, saying:
“What an impact. He’s a young lad, he’s made a mistake, but he is a fine, fine talent. He’s going to have a big future.”
His only start this season came in the 2-0 win against Lech Poznan in the Europa League, where he would earn an excellent 7.2 rating, but he has still been limited to just two substitute appearances in the SPFL, perhaps due to the excellent form of Tavernier.
However, whilst the captain recovers from injury, and with Balogun potentially unfit too, it could be the perfect chance for Patterson to enjoy a run of games in Gerrard’s side, starting with Wednesday’s game against David Martindale’s side.
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