RANGERS manager Michael Beale today admitted that Robby McCrorie will remain in his thoughts even if he signs a new goalkeeper this summer after watching him keep a clean sheet against Celtic.

The 25-year-old, who was preferred to Allan McGregor for the second game running, performed well in the 3-0 triumph over Ange Postecoglou’s team in a cinch Premiership game at Ibrox this afternoon.

Beale will overhaul his squad this summer and looks set to bring in Jack Butland, the former England internationalist who is on loan at Manchester United this season, from Crystal Place in the coming days.

However, he was pleased with how McCrorie, who tipped a goal-bound Matt O’Riley attempt over his crossbar in the second-half, acquitted himself once again and stressed the Scot is very much in his long-term plans.  

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“I think he will only get better with time,” he said. “He’s 100 per cent in my thinking.

“Listen, we are going to lose one goalkeeper because he is out of contract. We are not in the job of signing bad ones. We’ve had Allan and Jon (McLaughlin), two Scottish internationals, and Robbie has been in the group. 

The Herald:

“He has been injured for four of the six months I’ve been here, but he always knew he would get an opportunity. All he can do is keep playing as he did today. I think that’s four clean sheets on the bounce as a Rangers first-team keeper so that’s not a bad record to upkeep. He has set a high standard for himself.”

Beale, who recorded his first win over Celtic in his fifth meeting with the Parkhead club, also singled out his January signings Todd Cantwell, who opened the scoring and picked up the Man of the Match award at the end of the 90 minutes, and Nico Raskin for special praise after the league triumph.

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“We went back to the old way a little but with two runners and pressers on the outside with Nico as the footballer in the middle with Todd,” he said. “I thought they both played well.

“You can see Todd’s really highly motivated. He’s loving his time here and enjoying his team mates and the staff. It’s still early in his journey but he’s doing really well and I couldn’t be happier with him.

“That goes for the general attitude of the boys, through a difficult period, but Todd epitomises that and I thought he was excellent.”

Beale added: “Nico’s still only 21. It’s the first time he’s moved out of Belgium and football has come any him fast.

“He’s played in a lot of games, a lot of big games, and I think he’s a fine young player. He’s got a little bit of everything. He’s got a bit of tenacity to win his duels, he can pass and is just a really good football player we’ve got there.”

Beale was also pleased to see John Souttar, who opened his account for Rangers when he headed home a James Tavernier corner in the first-half, get his name on the scoresheet and enjoy a good afternoon.

“It was a real big performance from John Souttar,” he said. “He has had a tough season.

“I am delighted for John after the injury hell he has gone through both at his previous club and during his time at Rangers. It’s been extremely difficult for him and people have said things about someone without actually knowing the situation. 

“John’s back. He has played today with Connor (Goldson) and put on a really strong performance.  Obviously he has scored and probably got over that little mistake he made in the last one so I’m pleased for him. 

“That’s two clean sheets back to back he has been involved him as he came on last week. If he can stay fit we’ve got a really good player and I think he’ll push back into the national team if he can stay fit.”

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Rangers will finish the 2022/23 season trophyless and Beale played down the significance of the performance and result against treble contenders Celtic. However, he expressed confidence that better times lie ahead for the Ibrox club next term.  

“I was delighted with my team,” he said. “I thought their energy was really good. For the first time this year in this fixture, we executed in both boxes. It’s a nice feeling for the players and the fans going home. We won, but it’s nothing more than that.

“I think they’ll try and improve and we will too. We are the team with the most to improve aren’t we? It’s nothing more than three points today, I think over the course of the season we deserved today. 

“I think it gives us some oxygen going into the summer and the exciting period we have now of recruiting some players in. I still think this current group are capable of big performances. They put a decent one in today. 

 “I don’t want to talk about the work we’ve got to do or how far it is, it’s just three points. Let’s take it and I think it gives the fans some oxygen and breathing space too, looking forward to the summer.”