STEVEN Gerrard has told George Edmundson he can retain his place in the Rangers side despite Filip Helander being on the verge of a return – if he maintains his performance level he produced against Braga in the coming weeks. 
Former Oldham centre-half Edmundson replaced Nikola Katic in Portugal on Wednesday night. The 22-year-old Englishman, who had only made two Europa League appearances in the qualifying rounds previously, was superb and helped the Ibrox club to a 1-0 win to progress to the last-16. 
Gerrard was impressed with how his young countryman fared and believes that he can now enjoy an extended run in his Rangers team – even though Sweden internationalist Helander is set to make a comeback from injury. 
“George has had to bide his time, but that has been down to other players in his position performing extremely well,” he said. “Sometimes when that is the case you have to be patient and professional and maintain your standards on the training pitch. And he has done that. 
“He certainly deserved the opportunity against Braga. I thought he was outstanding. The challenge for George now is can he wipe the slate clean and go into Hearts with exactly the same mentality. I think he deserves to keep his place for sure. I only threw him in at the deep end because I had confidence and belief that he could handle it. I thought he brought a real calmness to our play. He is young, but he is ready. He has still got a lot to learn and develop, but we believe this is his moment that he needs to grasp. If he can keep his form close to what it was the other night then it will be his shirt to lose. 
“We see a real bright future for George. If he can maintain his standards and professionalism there is no reason why he can’t go on to become a top centre-half.”