Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has admitted the importance of protecting his young central defenders so he doesn’t “ruin them” – and insists he is looking forward to seeing how George Edmundson “blossoms” at Ibrox.
Edmundson has started the last two games for the Gers, with some fans blaming him for Hamilton’s goal in yesterday’s 4-1 Scottish Cup win.
The Ibrox boss knows he has to wrap some younger players in cotton wool and is sure that Edmundson is “more ready” now to make a name for himself at Ibrox than when he joined the club from Oldham in the summer.
“It was important with the level he was coming from, his age and the size of the move, that we didn’t toss him in and say: ‘Go on, off you go,’” Gerrard said, as quoted by the Daily Record.
“They need to see the Astroturf games and what Pittodrie and Celtic Park are like.
“They can get a feel and experience before they go in. Centre-backs are slightly different to attacking players. At the front end you can maybe take a risk and put them in when they’re not 100 per cent ready.
“But you don’t get away with that in central defence. So I’m conscious and protective of centre-halves at that age. I don’t want to ruin them.
“But there’s no doubt that over the past four or five months, George is more ready than when he first came through the door.
“He’s aware of the size of the demands and I’m looking forward to seeing how he blossoms.”
The midweek win over Hibs in the Scottish Cup was Edmundson’s first league start for the club and the Englishman has had to be patient waiting for an opportunity.
With the games coming thick and fast for the Light Blues, he could find himself starting his third game in a week when the Gers take on Kilmarnock on Wednesday night.
If he does start at Rugby Park, then there could well be some questions to be asked over Niko Katic’s long-term future at the club after losing his place to Edmundson and Filip Helander due back from injury in a month.