THE first name on the team sheet provides the first major decision for Giovanni van Bronckhorst. It is one that will shape Rangers' season.

In some ways, the call has been made slightly easier after one part of it was taken out of his hands and he will now have just two keepers to choose from unless there is a major change of heart from Robby McCrorie this summer.

As revealed in Herald and Times Sport on Wednesday, McCrorie is poised to quit Ibrox after seeing his route to first team football blocked once again on the eve of the new campaign.

The 24-year-old will report back to Auchenhowie for pre-season training on Monday. It will not, as he expected, to be to bid for the number one jersey this term, though.

The goalposts have shifted. It will not be a case of McCrorie challenging Jon McLaughlin for the gloves and the new deal for Allan McGregor leaves a three into two, or three into one, situation that will result in a departure for the youngest of the trio.

McCrorie has done his time coming through the ranks. Loan spells at Berwick Rangers, Morton, Queen of the South and Livingston have seen him learn the hard way in the lower leagues, while international recognition has come at every level along the road.

His call-up to the Scotland squad for the Nations League fixtures with the Republic of Ireland and Armenia were evidence of how highly he is rated by Steve Clarke and a host of English clubs are keeping a close eye on how the coming weeks will unfold at Ibrox.

McCrorie is out of contract next summer, but he will not put pen-to-paper on an extension and Rangers now run the risk of losing him for nothing at the end of the campaign. Rangers continue to rate him highly and a new four-year deal has been muted but relations with Ross Wilson, the sporting director, have eroded.

It is understandable if McCrorie feels disillusioned with the situation. After opting not to head to England last summer, this was set to be his time to stake his claim, but a change in stance now leaves him eyeing the exit door for the sake of his career.

McCrorie, a player who is level-headed but ambitious, has long been touted as a potential custodian at Ibrox. If he goes on to make a name for himself elsewhere, accusations of short-term thinking and poor decision making will be difficult to defend.

As it stands, nobody can say for certain that McCrorie is destined to be first choice at Ibrox and whether he is at the level, that standard that McGregor has set in recent years after raising the bar once again, that is required to be between the sticks during a title challenge and European campaign.

But the same could be said for McLaughlin. He has proven to be a reliable, quality backup for McGregor in recent years but most of his outings have come in cup clashes or against lesser opposition and he must now prove that he can produce those match-winning, season-defining moments that have been the trademark of his compatriot for so long.

Confidence can be taken from how impressive the former Hearts and Sunderland shot-stopper was in the Scottish Cup wins over Celtic and Hearts and the clamour from supporters for him to rank ahead of McGregor in the pecking order is well founded. He has earned this opportunity.

When it comes to those split-second, natural reaction saves, McGregor still edges it. When it comes to commanding an area and the air and playing out with the ball at his feet, McLaughlin is the superior operator.

That is the decision Van Bronckhorst must make now. He doesn't have the perfect keeper, but he has two who have their own areas of excellence and their own faults and time will tell who the Dutchman believes is the better all-rounder.

What he cannot afford to do is let his heart rule his head. With Champions League cash and Premiership silverware on the line, there is no room for sentiment.

Some of the comments made regarding McGregor in recent days have been absurd. That is always the danger when social media and forums are the gauge, but fickle fans have been quick to forget his service and too readily dismissed the quality that he still possesses.

However this season, which will surely be his last, pans out, McGregor's place amongst the pantheon of greats is assured. That legacy can be added to this term, but it should not be soured when the man who challenges Andy Goram for the title of the finest keeper in the club's history finally decides to hang up his gloves.

It is perfectly legitimate to hold the view that McGregor should have bowed out in style after the Scottish Cup success but history should not be re-written, and McGregor himself not written off. His influence cannot be discounted.

Rangers would not have reached the Europa League final without him. The mistakes made in the Premiership were costly, but he alone was not the difference between the title being won and lost, despite the drop-off from the exceedingly high levels that he set during the 55 season.

But last term felt like the natural end, the right point to go. It should have been a case of thanks for the memories to McGregor as McLaughlin and McCrorie were left to battle it out for the gloves and succeed or fail on their own merits.

Van Bronckhorst, left in a difficult position, will now do likewise. He had a legend who will say that time hasn't caught up with him, a deputy who has been patient and never let the side down and a homegrown talent who could have gone on and starred for years to come.

There was no way to keep them all happy. Whatever Van Bronckhorst chooses to do, he must be sure in his mind and the keeper call is a potentially defining one for Rangers.

Plenty have had their say. Now it is Van Bronckhorst's turn and for the Rangers number one, whoever it may be, to do their talking on the park as three becomes the wrong two at Ibrox.