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A brilliant move: Steve Lomas backs Gareth McAuley at Rangers


By Graham Luney

Former Northern Ireland captain Steve Lomas has backed Gareth McAuley to be a smash hit at Steven Gerrard's Rangers.

The Larne man has returned to the Northern Ireland squad after tying his big move to Ibrox, linking up with his international comrade Kyle Lafferty.

Former West Brom centre-back McAuley became Gerrard's 15th summer signing after agreeing a one-year deal and he can't wait to pull on the Gers jersey. The 38-year-old is confident he can sparkle in the Scottish Premiership and Lomas, who had a spell as St Johnstone manager, says 'Big G' deserves the glamour move.

"I think it's a brilliant move for Big G and I'm surprised it took so long," said the former West Ham, Manchester City and QPR midfielder.

"He would have been waiting for this move and he certainly deserves it with the fantastic career he has enjoyed.

"He's still a great player, someone who looks after himself and is in good nick, so I definitely think it's a good move for him, and big Kyle Lafferty being there will help him too."

McAuley is unlikely to start in the opening Nations League contest against Bosnia on Saturday at Windsor Park due to a lack of match fitness, however he may see more action in the friendly against Israel next Tuesday.

He admitted: "General fitness-wise I feel good, but in terms of sharpness I have a bit to catch up, and I will have to work hard on that over the next couple of weeks to get up to scratch.

"There are two games coming up and hopefully I can get some minutes under my belt as well in them depending on what the manager thinks."

Meanwhile, Coleraine midfielder Brad Lyons has joined Championship club Blackburn Rovers, initially on loan until January and then on an 18-month contract, with Bannsiders chairman Colin McKendry urging him to take inspiration from McAuley's progress since his Irish League days with the Showgrounds side and Crusaders.

"Brad is an absolute star, he's very friendly with my son Luke who is at Swansea and I would say to him to look at the career, attitude and sheer determination of Gareth McAuley," said McKendry.

"These are exciting times for Brad and we really hope he represents where he comes from with pride. I've no doubt he can prosper at a higher level."

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