DON COWIE reckons Jon McLaughlin will back himself to dethrone Rangers number one Allan McGregor.
And the former Hearts skipper is adamant the battle for the gloves between the duelling duo will ensure they BOTH reach new heights.
McLaughlin penned a two-year deal with the Ibrox giants on Tuesday after turning down a new deal at Sunderland and will provide stern competition between the sticks for McGregor.
Cowie has played with both stoppers, starring alongside McLaughlin at Hearts during the 2017/18 campaign and turning out for the international side with ex-Scotland international McGregor.
And he is adamant Rangers will be the beneficiaries of a heavyweight tussle for supremacy.
Cowie said: “Jon will back himself to take that number one jersey.
“It will be a real challenge for him because I’ve played with Allan [McGregor] for Scotland too and what he has achieved is incredible. He has gone back to Rangers and is the model of quality and consistency.
“But Jon will push him. He’ll push him every single day in training, and I’m sure that’s exactly what [Rangers manager] Steven Gerrard will want.
“As a coach, you want healthy, credible competition.
“Whether he can take the gloves off Allan after so many years? Time will tell – but it will be a real fight.
“You want two goalkeepers who will make each other better. You need people who will raise standards and keep the motivation there. I’m sure Jon and Allan will do that.”
McLaughlin was a late bloomer, having largely turned out in the English lower leagues with Harrogate Town, Bradford and Burton prior to joining the Jambos in 2017.
Cowie, now the first-team coach at Ross County, was immediately won over by the Scotsman’s calm authority and reliable level of performance. By the end of his one campaign in Gorgie, he had been capped for his country.
And, now with a further two years under his belt at Wearside sleeping giants Sunderland, Cowie believes McLaughlin is still young enough to be seen as the successor to McGregor.
Cowie recalled: “I can barely think of a single error Jon made during our season playing together at Hearts and that’s testament to how consistent he was. He absolutely deserved his Scotland call-up.
“He’s calm, a good communicator and a strong presence around the club.
“You very rarely see a goalkeeper go in at a high level between 18 and 21 years of age, as you would with an outfield player – so Jon proved himself through his mid-20s and got that move to two massive clubs in Hearts and Sunderland.
“It’s a steady progression and he’s getting better with every passing season.
“Allan isn’t getting any younger and Jon is coming into his peak years as a goalkeeper. Even at 32 years of age, he has plenty of years ahead of him and I’ve no doubt he has the ability to be a Rangers number one. It looks a good fit.”
If McLaughlin fails to wrestle a starting berth from McGregor, Cowie concedes that could do serious damage to his international hoes ahead of the Euro 2020 playoffs later this year.
However, the draw of Rangers, he contends, would have been too strong to ignore.
He added: “It does become difficult to pick a goalkeeper for your national set-up if he isn’t playing regularly.
“Being the number two at Rangers may lessen those opportunities. But, at the same time, when Rangers come calling you must back yourself to go there and fight for the position. It might not happen overnight for him – but it’s too good to turn down.”