ALLAN MCGREGOR may be in the last few months of his Rangers contract but he is surely not in the final stages of his Ibrox career.

At 38, the keeper has plenty of miles on the clock, yet he remains a driving force on and off the park for Rangers as Steven Gerrard bids to return the club to the top of Scottish football.

When injuries kept McGregor out of action at the start of the campaign, questions were raised about whether he would earn his starting spot back from Jon McLaughlin. Now, it is hard to fathom why McGregor was ever doubted.

A run-out against Lincoln Red Imps allowed him to get back up to speed, but it was the win over Willem II the following week that showed McGregor was back to his best.

That stunning showing in the Europa League has been the catalyst for the former Scotland shot-stopper and he will surely be between the sticks when Rangers head across Glasgow for the first Old Firm clash of the campaign this weekend.

Boss Gerrard admitted after the Willem win that he wishes to retain McGregor’s services beyond the end of the campaign. And Barcelona Bear Peter McCloy believes the decision should be an easy one for both parties.

"I played until I was 39-and-a-half and there was the changeover when Graeme Souness came in," McCloy told Herald and Times Sport. "It is a different situation because that was a time when the club wasn’t doing well.

"You want to play as long as you can, and Allan will know himself in training and in his discussions with the goalkeeping coach how things are.

"He might know himself when it is time to retire, but sometimes you need someone to remind you! At this moment in time, it shouldn’t be in his thoughts.

"He should just be enjoying it and he will want to be successful again. When you are finished, it becomes a short career and you miss it. If I was him, I would play for as long as I could, definitely.

"He is only a boy, he is only 38! You are so well looked after these days with the diet and the training, it is totally different.

"Way back, clubs hadn’t heard of goalkeeping coaches but now they have all got them because they realise how important it is. That will only benefit Allan at this stage of his career."

The opening weeks of the campaign gave McLaughlin a chance to impress and it was an opportunity he certainly made the most of. A seven-game clean sheet run at the start of the season saw Rangers rewrite the record books.

The Scotland international has done nothing wrong this term and in certain aspects – such as his commanding of his area and his ability with the ball at his feet – he looks more accomplished than his glove rival.

There is an X-Factor about McGregor, though. He is tried and trusted over many successful years and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t start in the first Old Firm of the campaign.

McCloy said: "His levels of consistency are terrific and he has got a great record. I have always been really impressed with him, he makes big, vital saves at crucial points in the game.

"They are match-winning moments and that comes down to concentration. A lot of times you are standing and not having too much to do and then you need to make that one save.

"He has been there a long time and been a very impressive keeper for a long time so he hasn’t done anything to suggest that he shouldn’t be playing.

"McLaughlin has done well. He has come in and done well from what I have seen of him. It has kept Allan on his toes, there is no doubt about it.

"But the manager will watch them in training every day and he will have that feeling who he wants to play against Celtic."

As McLaughlin was racking up the games and the clean sheets just a few weeks ago, he could have been forgiven for looking at the Celtic game and dreaming of a derby debut.

His arrival from Sunderland has undoubtedly pushed McGregor on this season and Gerrard will be the envy of managers across Britain given the options he has in goals at present.

Of all the calls Gerrard has to make ahead of the Old Firm encounter, few will be as tough on the man that misses out as the one between McGregor and McLaughlin.

"It is a shame for Jon but the manager has to make the choice, and it is not an easy decision," McCloy said. "They have got the situation now where they have two players for every position and the goalkeeper is always a hard one because only one can play.

"That is why you are a manager, you are paid to make those decisions. I had it two or three times in my career and you believe you should be playing. If you are not, you need to keep your head down, work hard and get your way back in.

"The manager will play the one he thinks is the best. I had discussions with managers but I never agreed with them!

"I had the situation with Stewart Kennedy, and it happened to both of us, where we were playing fine, got injured, and didn’t get back in. The manager was consistent with what he did with that. He didn’t drop anyone for bad play, it was just because of injuries.

"You have the situation now where some clubs play with keepers in cup ties and the league matches. It is difficult, but that is why the manager is paid to make decisions."