STEVEN Gerrard admits Niko Katic has given him no option but to leave summer signing Filip Helander on the sidelines for now.
The Gers boss says the Croatian’s superb form, alongside Connor Goldson, means Swedish centre-back Helander who joined last month from Bologna, can’t get a look in.
Gerrard has tipped Katic to improve further after a solid start to his second season at Ibrox, which has seen him impress at both ends of the pitch. Both he and partner Goldson have caused problems in the opposition box, scoring three between them.
Speaking to the media Gerrard said: “I think he was a player who came at a very young age and we always said that he would have a little dip in form or he would have some bumps.
“He lost his confidence for a period last season but I think outside of that he had a very positive first season.
“He is a player we love and admire and want to help grow and develop and that is happening.
“I think he is moving along very quickly, he has come back in such a positive frame of mind after a really strong tournament with Croatia Under 21s in the summer.
“He has taken his form into the new season and that is probably a reason why I haven’t been able to introduce Filip Helander at the moment.
“I say to these players, “Do what you can to keep the shirt.” and if you play well then more often than not you keep the shirt.
“I think at the weekend the left side of my defence was probably at fault for their goal, which we have looked at.
“So the likes of Niko and the young lads in the squad need to keep learning and improving and with experience they will continue to get better.”
Katic played 30 times for Rangers last season, with loanee Joe Worrall replacing him in the starting XI for a spell and Gerrard believes he has shown the right character to succeed in Glasgow.
He continued: “He is a very mentally strong boy, he is someone who won’t shy away when he makes a mistake or if he has a bad performance he is very honest and open.
“I think that is a real good sign, if you want to develop and grow, that when you analyse you don’t just look at the good stuff, really try and improve on some of your weaknesses as well.
“To work with he is an absolute dream, he is so professional, he is robust and he will run through a wall for you.
“I predict he is going to get better and better and for sure, in answer to your question, he has the mentality to be a Rangers player.”