Alan Hutton has tipped James Tavernier to make his first Rangers appearance since February against St Johnstone – albeit from the bench.

The former Ibrox ace, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted there was no need to risk bringing the 29-year-old back after Nathan Patterson’s stellar displays.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, assistant boss Gary McAllister acknowledged Steven Gerrard had two “outstanding” right-backs to choose from now both are available.

Patterson has started seven games in Tavernier’s absence, with the club captain left as an unused substitute for the 2-0 win over Celtic.

Hutton lauded the 19-year-old for his performance against the Bhoys and claimed he had taken his game to the next level.

As such, he suggested Tavernier would be kept on the substitutes’ bench once again.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Hutton told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “It is a big question. I thought Nathan Patterson was outstanding against Celtic, especially in the first half.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him play in a Rangers shirt in the first half. He has taken his game game to the next level, I think. He really truly believed that he should be playing in that team against Celtic. One of the biggest games in the season so it’s difficult.

“Yes, Tavernier is the number one right-back. There’s no getting away from that. I just think you don’t really need to risk him. I’ve had the injury, I know what it feels, I know it takes time to get back to 100 per cent fitness.

“I don’t see the need in risking him. You could play Patterson for most of the game if you want and give Tavernier maybe the last 20 minutes. I don’t think it’s necessary to throw him in for 90 minutes.

“It’s a big decision he has got to make. I know Tavernier’s number one. He’s been outstanding this season, his numbers are incredible. He will come back in at some point and Nathan Patterson’s just going to have to be patient.

“That is what happens when you’re a young boy. At least he has had a taste of it. He knows how hard he will need to work to reclaim that spot.” 

In other news, finance expert explains how Celtic’s £15million advantage over Rangers could disappear in July.