International appearance shows star is fit for action
Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Gareth McAuley's start shows he's ready to shine for Rangers

If you’re not in-tune with international football, Rangers star Gareth McAuley’s start for Northern Ireland has been confirmed.

This is great news for Rangers fans ahead of the return to action. The veteran centre-back has struggled with a host of niggling injuries combined with fitness issues. It’s blighted the start to his Ibrox career, as he’s yet to make a single start.

Tonight, however, Michael O’Neill has chosen him to feature for Northern Ireland against Austria. Better yet, it’s from the start as he makes his first appearance since arriving at Rangers back in early September.

Gareth McAuley has started for Northern Ireland against Austria tonight (David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)


The centre-back has been showing signs of improvement to his fitness in recent times. McAuley featured for the final few moments against Spartak Moscow before playing for 45 minutes against 10-man Motherwell.

Added to that, the former West Bromwich Albion man has been doing much more media appearances in recent weeks. This wouldn’t be the case if he was still building up his match-fitness.

That’s not to say McAuley is now going to instantly feature for Rangers on a weekly basis. What he does offer, however, is both experience and quality in a position where Rangers have struggled with both.

Massive plus for Rangers

Despite Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic’s impressive performances early on, the latter’s form has dipped massively. His replacement, Joe Worrall, hasn’t fared much better since arriving on-loan from Nottingham Forest.

McAuley is effectively the last hope to build a partnership with the steady Goldson in the Rangers defence. With such a world-class goalkeeper in Allan McGregor operating behind the defence, Rangers can have the making of a sensational back-line if they can find some consistency.

Nikola Katic is going to struggle to fight off McAuley (Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)

Rangers can expect a real no-nonsense approach from McAuley when the domestic game starts again. He isn’t one for fancy flicks or tricks in his own half. He’s an old-school, bullish defender who takes no prisoners.

Whilst many will be concerned about his lack of pace, that’s never been an issue before. Featuring against the best that England has to offer, McAuley has been there and done it. Certainly, the Northern Irishman won’t be fazed by coming up against Premiership opposition.

It’s a small deal to many that McAuley has made the starting line-up tonight. It’s not the most exciting of news either, but it is a huge boost to Rangers that he’ll be getting tested at international level upon his return to Ibrox.

LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment