JON McLaughlin was the hero on Saturday as his penalty save against Dundee striker Jason Cummings ensured Rangers came away from Dens Park with all three points.

It was a huge moment in the game given the Light Blues were far from their best and it knocked the stuffing out of James McPake’s men. Incredibly it was McLaughlin’s 16th clean sheet in 20 starts, an 80% shutout record. With Allan McGregor once again sat on the bench, it begs the question, are we witnessing the beginning of a changing of the guard?

Both keepers have played six games each this campaign with McLaughlin being preferred domestically keeping four clean sheets to McGregor’s one, albeit McGregor has featured in the tough European matches against Malmo and Lyon. However, whenever McLaughlin has been called upon he hasn’t put a foot wrong, so much so, whenever he steps in for McGregor, you don’t feel the starting XI has been truly weakened.

Now, don’t get me wrong, in my mind Allan McGregor is Rangers’ greatest ever goalkeeper and has surpassed Andy Goram given his longevity, consistency and often match-winning displays. However, he’s not getting any younger and given he celebrates his 40th birthday in January, it would be folly for Rangers not to be thinking of the long-term.

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Last season was arguably McGregor’s finest during his two spells with the club having helped secure title number 55, as well as breaking the Scottish clean sheet record (25, with McGregor contributing to 16 of those) and the British record for fewest league goals conceded(13). On a personal level, he was named Player of the Year by the supporters and also took home the SPFL gong. It’s that form that saw him sign a one-year extension to his contract which runs out at the end of the season.  Come the summer, you feel a big decision will have to be made as to whether he wants to carry on or if he will call time on an illustrious career.

What will please the Rangers coaching staff and supporters alike is the fact they have a more than able deputy who can be relied upon to take over the mantle. After recently turning 34, McLaughlin has fewer miles on the clock and could realistically become Rangers number one for the next four to five years barring any major injuries.

He has all the attributes to succeed McGregor. He’s commanding, can be trusted with the ball at his feet, arguably better than McGregor with his distribution and, as shown on Saturday, can pop up with match-defining saves.

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Like McGregor, McLaughlin’s contract expires next summer and you would imagine getting him tied up on a longer-term deal would be very much in the pipeline.

Of course, Covid disruptions have also meant that Robby McCrorie has made his long-awaited debut this season and he too has impressed with clean sheets against Alashkert and Celtic. That said, the natural progression would be for the 23-year-old to become the number two before taking over between the sticks on a consistent basis. And given the dual role that both McGregor and McLaughlin carry out, you’d imagine a similar scenario could develop between McLaughlin and McCrorie once McGregor hangs up the gloves.

We may already be seeing the start of an evolution between the sticks as McLaughlin has started the last two matches - although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see McGregor return for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Sparta Prague.

Going forward though, it’s unrealistic to expect a soon-to-be 40-year-old to maintain a level of performance that has resulted in McGregor becoming one of the true Rangers greats. He has been a revelation since re-joining his boyhood heroes and a major reason why the SPFL trophy is residing back on Edmiston Drive for the first time in a decade. But all good things must come to an end and you can’t help but feel this season could very well be his last.

Fortunately, the conveyer belt of top-class goalkeepers shows no sign of malfunctioning at Ibrox and in Jon McLaughlin, there's no doubt the club is in safe hands.