CONNOR Goldson’s voice is raw and quivering with emotion as he makes the case for the Rangers defence.

The Ibrox side have conceded just ten goals in the Premiership all season long, one more than Celtic, and racked up no fewer than eight continental clean sheets to stand on the cusp of qualification for the last 32 of the Europa League.

But let a two-goal lead slip against Aberdeen at Pittodrie in midweek, and suddenly everything is being questioned again.

Say what you like about this former Brighton player, but he is a proud man who has made as big a contribution to those stats as anyone – save perhaps Allan McGregor – with 30 appearances for his side by the start of December.

If some are suddenly questioning in the wake of Pittodrie his suitability even to be on the field for what he admits will be the biggest match of his life, it is little wonder that he is taking it all a bit personally. While there have been calls for Nikola Katic or even George Edmondson to return to the backline, Goldson and Filip Helander have been mainstays in a good recent run and seem likely to get the nod again today.

“I tend not to read anything, high or low,” said Goldson. “If you’d asked someone on Sunday, after we’d played Hearts, who is the best partnership then I’m sure it would have a different answer to after Wednesday. You deal with it.

“I have a family I go home to every single day after a match and every day after training,” he added. “They keep me away from football.

“I try to do my best. I’m a human being and I do every single thing in my power to perform well and help Rangers win games of football. Whether that’s preparing or recovering or doing things in the gym, eating well. I know that I can look at myself in the mirror and I know I do everything right.

“If I have a bad game, if I make mistakes, it’s due to me being a human being and not being the best central defender in the world, which I know I’m obviously not.

“But, over the course of a season, I try to limit them as much as I can and stay as professional as I can. As long as I can go back after every game and look at myself in the mirror then I’ll try not to listen to anything that comes from the other side.”

And don’t get him started on Chris Sutton’s assessment of his captain James Tavernier as a “serial loser”. Getting it tight from fans is one thing, but ex professionals like him should definitely know better.

“This is basically just a question waiting for a headline, isn’t it?” said Goldson. “So I don’t even want to say anything. But I think it’s poor when ex-professional footballers come out these days and slate people. They know how hard it is to do the job.

“Fans? You accept it. They’ve never been footballers. They don’t know the pressure and the hard work. They think it’s an hour-and-a-half of training each day and what a life it is, but there’s pressure you’re under and the hard work you do every single day.

“When you leave the training ground you constantly have to care about what you eat, what you do, what time you sleep. Everything is a routine. For ex-professional footballers to come out and scrutinise players so they get a headline, I think it’s poor. I wouldn’t do it. I don’t come out and slate any other players while I’m still playing, and I won’t when I’ve finished playing either.”

Not that Goldson is in denial about Wednesday night. He knows he could have done better with the second goal. “I accept the criticism for the second goal,” he said. “At the time I thought it was a foul, looking back it is a little bit soft. But we are human, we have all been in tough scenarios and we have dealt with it before. If you let a two-goal lead slip you are open to criticism and we accept it. Personally, I am just more disappointed we didn’t get three games from a game where you know you should have done.”

Another mistake which Goldson is being asked to relive is an ambitious pass down the right side of midfield which was pilfered by Mikey Johnston in the lead-up to Celtic’s opening goal in the 2-0 win at Ibrox earlier in the season. To be fair, there was still plenty of chance for his team-mates to redeem the situation before Odsonne Edouard slotted it in.

“When I reflect on that game, it was a game of hardly anything, truthfully,” said Goldson. “It was a game of a mistake for the first goal by myself and, apart from that, it was a scrappy Old Firm.

“They came and did a job on us. We couldn’t get going, we couldn’t create much and didn’t have many chances. But since then, we’ve gone on and I don’t think we’ve lost a game domestically. We said after that game that we had to go on a winning run and we did that. Confidence is high. Whatever team is picked, it’s a cup final and it’s completely different from any other game we’ll play as professional footballers. We haven’t actually looked back at that game since a few days after it when we did the team meeting."

Don't underestimate the importance of a match like this to a player such as Goldson. Ninety minutes is long enough to justify all the sacrifice and hard graft forever - not to mention silencing a few critics.

"I would say this is the biggest match of my career so far," he said. "A cup final, with such a lot on the line. This club and these fans have been waiting a long time for success, nine years without a major trophy and this squad have been assembled to bring that in. I think we have a great chance.

“100% there is a lot of pressure on us, because of the wait to win a trophy. Or you could say Celtic have won a lot and go in as probably the favourites, so they don’t want to end their run of winning competitions. Whatever way you look at it, we all want to go in and win a game of football."