Gary McAllister reckons Filip Helander’s arrival to Rangers this summer has had a positive impact on Nikola Katic.
Gers’ assistant manager believes the Croatia international defender’s game has gone up a level following the arrival of the Swede as the competition for places in the first-team has intensified.
Speaking to the Evening Times about Helander and the possibility of him featuring for the Light Blues in their Scottish League Cup tie against East Fife on Sunday, he said: “When the opportunity does come he has to grab it and catch the manager’s eye. His arrival has definitely helped to lift Nikola Katic’s game.
“Maybe the arrival of Joe Worrall last season had the opposite effect because he came in and took Niko’s position and Niko has learned from that and he’s been very strong in both boxes.
“We come under pressure in some of the European games but the clearances and headers have been vital and it would be hard to split up that Goldson-Katic pairing at the moment.”
Katic has been brilliant this season for Rangers and has been quietly going about his job alongside Connor Goldson in the middle of the defence this season with some solid contributions.
Rangers News have waxed lyrical over some of his performances already, with the first-leg victory against FC Midtjylland earning the Croatian praise from the fan site as they suggested Gerrard would have a positive headache on his hands when it came down to team selection in the future.
They wrote: “Really impressive performance from the Croatian. Must really be giving Gerrard a headache over his selection once Filip Helander is available. Took his goal really well and won pretty much header that came his way all night.”
Katic was in and out of the Rangers first-team last season, something he admitted had infuriated him at times, however he revealed he had respect for Steven Gerrard and realised he needed to perform better than he had over the course of his debut season at Ibrox (Daily Record).
Indeed, it appears as though he has gone from strength-to-strength as well as his manager revealed prior to the second-leg against FC Midtjylland that he could not introduce Helander to his starting XI just yet because of how well the Croatian has bounced back (The Herald).
Katic appears to be thriving in the Rangers first-team at the moment and looks to have benefitted from the added competition to the defensive ranks.
With Goldson having been a mainstay in the side since joining last summer (Transfermarkt), the Croatia international’s place is the one that looks to be up for grabs with the likes of the experienced Helander and George Edmundson battling it out for that one spot as well.
But, should the 22-year-old continue to impress and perform to a high standard, the two new summer additions may have their work cut out for them if they are to try and break into the first-team at Ibrox.
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