John Souttar: Ally McCoist has his say on outgoing Hearts defender's readiness for Rangers
Rangers legend Ally McCoist was watching John Souttar’s performance at Hampden with interest – and has had his say on the centre-back’s future prospects at Rangers.
Souttar found himself in the unusual position of being under the unforgiving gaze of both sets of fans in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday.
Returning to the Hearts starting line-up for the first time in more than two months after being sidelined by an ankle injury, the Scotland defender’s inclusion iraised eyebrows among some Jambos who were left unhappy by his decision to agree a pre-contract move to Rangers in January.
As he made his last appearance in a maroon jersey, Souttar’s credentials were also being assessed by those in the Rangers end of the stadium ahead of his summer move to the Ibrox club.
But the 25-year-old rose to the challenge impressively. Despite a lack of match practice, he was Hearts’ best player on the day and the character he displayed has earned warm praise from former Rangers boss McCoist who was on TV punditry duty for Premier Sports.
“You’ve got to have that when you move to Rangers or Celtic,” said McCoist. “It’s the bare minimum required at the Old Firm. It was a tough gig for him. He was under a lot of scrutiny but I thought he came through it with flying colours.
“I’d like to have seen him play against a centre forward, right enough! But no, seriously, he dealt with it all so well. I thought he was immense. I just hope he stays fit, that’s all I can ask for.
“He was terrific at Hampden. There were a couple of forward runs and I thought he defended superbly. The ball was like a magnet to his head for a period. I just wish him all the best and I hope the lad stays fit. I think Souttar showed on Saturday he’s more than up for the challenge.”
Souttar’s arrival will be one of many changes to the Rangers first team squad ahead of next season with uncertainty still surrounding the future of out of contract players Allan McGregor, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun and Steven Davis.
McGregor appeared to make his farewell appearance as a late substitute for Jon McLaughlin as Rangers beat Hearts 2-0 in extra-time, although the 40-year-old goalkeeper remained coy when asked about his situation afterwards.
McCoist is hopeful defender Goldson and veteran midfielder Davis can be persuaded to extend their stays at the club.
“I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know what will happen with Greegs,” said McCoist. “He’ll make his own mind up. You know what Greegsy is like, he might not fancy it, he may have had enough.
“But you’d definitely think they’ll be offering Connor Goldson something and Steven Davis over these last two games looks like he’s got another year in him anyway.
“Connor is the one that’s interesting. I know they’ve offered him something and it will be interesting to see what happens. But from Rangers’ point of view I think it would be great if he stayed.”