WHEN Jon McLaughlin orchestrated the move that allowed Allan McGregor the opportunity to replace him at the tail end of the Scottish Cup final last month, it felt like a fitting end to a long and distinguished career.

The 40-year-old’s time at Rangers appeared all but over although he hinted he'd like to remain at Ibrox when he gave an interview to Rangers TV following the 2-0 victory over Hearts.

He said: "Of course, it will look like [my final game].

"If I was watching it would look like that to me as well. But I've not thought about it [my contract]. There have been games every week. All I've thought about is the next game and recovery. Now that the season is finished I will talk to the club, they're easy to talk to and they know me. We will see what is best for both parties."

A report that emerged late on Monday night claiming conversations have been held about extending his contract has been refuted by the Rangers Review.

We understand talks have not taken place about a new contract. However, the player and club enjoy an excellent relationship and an extension is not off the table.

As it stands, McGregor’s contract has expired, therefore, Rangers currently have two first-team goalkeepers on their books for next season.

READ MORE: Inside Allan McGregor's Rangers future amid coaching role and contract speculation

In Jon McLaughlin and Robby McCrorie, the club is ably covered in the goalkeeping department. It’s an area of the pitch that doesn’t require surgery and here are the reasons why.

Since McLaughlin pitched up at Ibrox from Sunderland in the summer of 2020, he has been a safe pair of hands when deputising for McGregor.

And not only a safe pair of hands, but it’s also at his feet where McLaughlin excels and is a huge reason why he should start next term as the No.1. His distribution is superior to McGregor’s while his ability to come and claim cross balls is something Rangers have lacked this season.

This was displayed in April in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final win when Rangers looked to invite pressure before playing through the lines. It was a tactic expertly deployed by Giovanni van Bronckhorst and carried out superbly by McLaughlin. The same tactic simply couldn’t have been adopted if McGregor was the stopper at Hampden that day.

McLaughlin, himself, will have designs on becoming the first-choice keeper. After penning a new deal back in January, the 34-year-old stated his desire to take over the reins from McGregor.

He said: “Of course, I want to play, I want to become a first-choice regular at this club. That’s my aim as it would be for any player.

“But it’s not about replacing anyone or taking someone else’s place. If Allan was to stay at Rangers, then I along with everyone else would be delighted.

“It’s not about me wanting [him to leave] to give me a better chance. That’s not how I want things to work.

“So it wasn’t a case of me knowing what Allan’s plans are for the future. It was about knowing I’m at a great football club, where I’m happy playing my football and working right now.

“I can see a good future for myself here regardless of who else is in the building.

“Allan’s had an amazing career and if that does continue, then myself and everyone else will be delighted. But we’ll wait and see after this season.”

If we use the Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) metric from last season's Premiership campaign we get a sense of how relatively similar they are when it comes to shot-stopping albeit McGregor played more often.

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When we contrast other attributes from last season, we can see McGregor excels when it comes to shot-stopping but, crucially, McLaughlin reigns supreme when we look at the Goalkeeper Aggressive Distance and claims metrics which tells you he isn't afraid to venture from his line to claim cross balls as well as acting as an ad-hoc sweeper if necessary.

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Should McLaughlin be promoted then Robby McCrorie should fulfil the No.2 role. At 24, he simply cannot afford to spend another season as a third-choice goalkeeper – he’s far too good for that.

Of course, we got to see McCrorie in action first-hand last season as Covid decimated the squad. His performances in the matches against Celtic and Alashkert give optimism that he is the future of the club.

READ MORE: Rangers keeper Allan McGregor's European vulnerability and the credentials that could make Robby McCrorie the new number one

It may have just been two matches but these were two high-pressurised powderkeg affairs and he passed both tests with flying colours, claiming two clean sheets in the process.

He has done enough for me to justify being trusted to become the deputy goalkeeper next season.

Should the club think otherwise and decide to bring someone else in then, for the sake of his own career, McCrorie has to leave Ibrox and seek first-team football elsewhere.

With Andy Firth departing the club, it remains to be seen if Rangers will look to add a third-choice goalkeeper. Should an agreement be reached between McGregor and the Ibrox side then this is the role that, arguably the greatest keeper in the club’s 150-year history, should take.

Rangers have an organic succession line in terms of the goalkeeping position. It’s time for a changing of the guard this summer and it should not cost a penny to do so.