THE character of Allan McGregor has been as important as the quality for Steven Gerrard. If Rangers do go on to end their silverware drought this term, both of those traits will have been crucial to the cause.

The 38-year-old may be in the twilight of his career but he continues to shine brightly at Ibrox. On and off the park, McGregor remains hugely influential and integral for Rangers.

At Ibrox this evening, he will add a personal milestone to the collective achievements that are on an impressive CV as he surpasses the European appearance record that is currently held by former team-mate Barry Ferguson.

The two played significant parts in the success that Rangers achieved under the guidance of Walter Smith and McGregor has now assumed the leadership role that Ferguson mastered during his playing days.

Alongside the likes of Steven Davis, Scott Arfield, Connor Goldson and skipper James Tavernier, the keeper acts as a source of encouragement and inspiration for those around him. It is a position Gerrard is grateful that McGregor has assumed.

“He’s been massive for us,” Gerrard said. “There is no way we could have progressed like we have without characters like McGregor, Davis, Arfield, Goldson and Tavernier in the building.

“The leadership group that we tap into now and again have all been fantastic and Allan has been at the forefront of that.

“I think he has learned a lot even in the last couple of years, in terms of his leadership and adapting to a new brand of players - the younger generation are not like it was 10 or 15 years ago.

“So Allan is certainly adapting to leading those players. He knows he is an example and someone those young lads look up to.

“He has been the ultimate professional for me since day one. He is someone we trust not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. He’s been fantastic, I can’t speak any more highly of him.”

The plaudits will rightly come for McGregor when he rewrites the Ibrox record books against Standard Liege but the points will be more important for the former Scotland international.

Victory over the Belgians would ensure Rangers progress to the last 32 of the Europa League and they will then face Lech Poznan next week with their sights set on top spot in Group D.

The relentless nature that Rangers have exhibited this term owes much to a renewed drive and determination from within. When it comes to McGregor, his levels remain as high as ever.

Gerrard said: “I think he is certainly up there alongside the best that I played with in terms of how he goes about his business on a daily basis.

“His standards are top and it certainly helps my job when there are people in the dressing room that help relay those messages and set the standards themselves.

“His consistency levels from day one have been of a really high level and Allan deserves to break this record.

“I am really pleased for him, we are all proud of him here and he has never let us down. He is someone we are extremely happy with and to take the record from someone like Barry Ferguson, who has got an incredible legacy at the club, I think it should be a proud day for both.

“I am sure Allan will be very grateful to take the baton from Barry and I am sure Barry will be proud as well because they played together and are two fantastic servants for the club.”

The coming months will give Rangers the chance to end their long wait for silverware and offer Gerrard’s side the opportunity to go down in Ibrox folklore.

As it stands, they could also be McGregor’s final ones at the club he has served with such distinction over his two spells with his boyhood heroes.

The keeper is out of contract at the end of the season but his immediate ambitions are of more concern to Gerrard than his long-term future right now.

“We’re not any closer than we have been,” Gerrard said when asked about McGregor’s deal and any discussions over an extension. “He signed a year’s extension last summer and it’s something we will probably look at as the months go by.

“There’s no problems or any urgency on it as far as we are concerned. It’s very much something where we will listen to Allan in terms of where we think he is at body-wise, what he wants to look at in the future.

“We are aware of the options. Does he play on? Do we offer him something to play on?

“Does he see himself going down the coaching road? Does he want a break from it?

“There are a load of things we need to discuss in the conversation. But I don’t think the time is right for that. Allan is in a good place, the team’s in a good place.

“There are quite a few players in the squad who know we want to talk to them about their futures.

“But when the time is right, we will pick that up with them and their representatives. At the moment, there is no urgency or rush on those players.”