In today’s pre-match press conference, Steven Gerrard was full of praise for one player in particular. Gareth McAuley.
The 39-year-old defender joined the club from West Bromich Albion over the summer. After overcoming a troublesome calf issue, he has started four of the last five matches at centre-back, alongside Connor Goldson.
“Gareth’s took to it like a duck to water, like we expected.”
“He’s 38 years of age (39), but he hasn’t got that type of body”, explained the manager.
There’s little doubt that to still be operating at this level at that age, McAuley has looked after himself very well. However, Gerrard did admit that McAuley’s age must come into consideration from time to time.
“I have to manage Gareth different.”
“Gareth’s a similar age to myself, he’s played just as many games as I did”, he added.
🎙️SG: McAuley is naturally a leader and an organiser. I need to manage him differently due to his age and the amount of game he has played. As a young team, it is key to have that voice and leadership around the place.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) December 18, 2018
When put like that, it is amazing that the Northern Irishman is still going.
Gerrard retired two years ago, after an 18-year professional career. Yet McAuley, 6 months his senior, is still pressing on.
As the manager also covered, the vast experience he brings to the table can only help younger centre-backs like Nikola Katic and Joe Worrall to learn.
All this praise may signal a timely rest for the veteran tomorrow night.
With Katic warming up with 60 minutes for the reserves yesterday, he is likely to at least feature in the match day squad.
After over a month out of the side, it would be great to see the Croatian return from the start, to partner Connor Goldson tomorrow night.