Steven Gerrard claims the decision to ban Nathan Patterson for breaching lockdown rules risks damaging the career of one of Scotland’s brightest ever prospects.
Patterson and four of his Ibrox team-mates were handed six-game bans – with two suspended – after police were called to break up an illegal house party they attended back in February.
Rangers informed the Scottish Football Association late on Friday night that they would be appealing the suspensions for the ‘Covid Five’ – which also includes Calvin Bassey, Bongani Zungu and academy youngsters Brian Kinnear and Dapo Mebude – and are now awaiting a date for their Hampden hearing.
While some Gers supporters were relieved to see the players spared a repeat of the seven-match punishments meted out to team-mates Jordan Jones and George Edmundson after they were also found to have broken Covid rules late last year, Gerrard insists the two incidents are not comparable.
And he fears the decision could yet end up putting the shackles on Patterson’s future prospects – even claiming the decision to ban him will have frustrated Steve Clarke ahead of Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign this summer.
Speaking after watching the 19-year-old net as Gers’ 4-0 Scottish Cup win over Cove Rangers teed up a quarter-final clash with Celtic, Gerrard said: “Nathan is growing and growing. It’s a shame that he’s going to miss games moving forward.
“I’m not to happy over that and I’m not sure Steve Clarke will be very happy as well because unfortunately he’s going to have a big ban now.
“(The appeal) is something we’re still discussing at the moment. We’re in talks with the SFA over a date.
“The reason for the appeal is we think it’s harsh in terms of what went on on the night.
“I think everyone assumes because of what happened with Jordan Jones and George Edmundson that everything is the same, which isn’t the case.
“We don’t think everything has been taken into consideration when you are talking about the boys in terms of age and how damaging it could be for them in their careers moving forward now.
“You’re talking about one of the brightest prospects ever in terms of right-back. This kid is going to go and play for Scotland and all of a sudden the SFA want to ban him for that long. I don’t get it.”
Asked if he felt the ban might hamper Patterson’s hopes of forcing his way into Clarke’s squad for this summer, he replied: “I’m not saying that at all. That’s Steve Clarke’s decision. I know Steve rates him. We’ve had a discussion over Nathan.
“He’s burst onto the scene, played against top teams and individuals and you can see there is a talent and potential there.
“It’s only a matter of time before he becomes an international. That’s not putting any pressure on the player. But those decisions are down to Steve.”
Patterson wrapped up Gers’ win before the break following Jermain Defoe’s opener and a double from Kemar Roofe.
Cove boss Paul Hartley was delighted his side shut out the newly-crowned Scottish champions after the break but there was a further blow when Jamie Masson suffered a horror ankle injury.
“When we go in at half-time and we are 4-0 down and you feel at your worst, but credit to the players, we wanted to keep a clean sheet in the second half.
“Jamie will go in for a scan tomorrow. It doesn’t look a good one.”