14 Jun Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has high hopes for ‘leader’ Connor Goldson
Steven Gerrard believes new signing Connor Goldson is the big stopper Rangers need to plug their leaky defence.
The new Ibrox boss has inherited a squad which shipped more goals than any of their top-six rivals last term.
But the former Liverpool and England skipper has made sorting that problem his number one priority, splashing out a combined £5million to land Goldson and Croatia international Nikola Katic.
And Gerrard expects to see former Brighton centre-back Goldson leading by example once the season gets under way.
Gerrard, speaking to RangersTV on the eve of Gers’ return to pre-season training on Friday, said: “We’ve assessed the areas where we are strong, where we need to tweak and need to improve.
“Centre-back (was one such) area. Russell Martin went back, Bruno Alves is at the World Cup, David Bates left on a free and that was an area where we needed players but players who fit the profile, who are hungry, who want to come in and defend this badge with their life.
“That was the message when we spoke to these players, it’s not about coming to Rangers and being a Rangers player, it’s about coming and being a Rangers player and then defending the shirt with their life and both Katic and Goldson are right up for that challenge, which excites me.
“They are different in terms of age and experience. Nikola is very inexperienced in terms of number of games but in terms of potential and profile he ticked every box and he’s really looking forward to coming out to Spain and getting going and getting his fitness.
“In terms of Connor, he’s ready to go. He’s had a frustrating couple of years in terms of being a back-up player at Brighton.
“But he doesn’t see himself as a back-up player and neither do I. I see him as a leader, a starter and someone who can cajole the defence and take ownership of that. He’s as hungry as anyone to get going.”
Gerrard has also signed off moves for Allan McGregor, Scott Arfield and Jamie Murphy as well as a loan swoop for Liverpool youngster Ovie Ejaria.
But he told the Ibrox support his recruitment work is far from complete.
He said: “The centre-back area is one we had to move quickly on, try and get a head start on just because of the changes and the dynamics but we’re looking to strengthen every area. Every area we feel like we can improve we’ll pounce and we’ll do it.”
Gerrard knows Ejaria well from his stint working in Liverpool’s youth academy but he hinted the England Under-20s World Cup winner will be phased in gradually.
“I think with Ovie it’s important the crowd give him a bit of time to come up and adapt to the surroundings,” he said. “In terms of talent, in getting fans on the edge of their seats, in terms of someone who has tonnes of ability and is waiting for people to admire it, we feel he is ready to burst but he will have to be managed and put in at the right time.
“But he’s one we’re confident can excite the fans here and that’s what the fans want here.”