CRAIG PATERSON reckons that Shaun Hutchinson is the perfect summer signing for Rangers as Ally McCoist looks to fine-tune his squad for the SPFL Championship.
The 23-year-old is out-of-contract at Motherwell and will almost certainly move on this close season with a string of English Championship clubs also interested in acquiring Hutch's uncompromising centre-back services.
Questions marks remain over the longevity of the Light Blues' current first choice centre-back pairing of skipper Lee McCulloch, who has just turned 36, and the erratic Bilel Mohsni.
Ibrox defenders Ross Perry and Chris Hegarty have both been shown the exit door, Emilson Cribari's future looks rather bleak in Govan while Sebastien Faure is unlikely to force a belated pathway into the Gers first team next time around.
Taking all that into consideration, the former Gers Scottish Cup-winning captain reckons Hutchinson is the perfect rearguard summer signing for Ibrox boss McCoist
Paterson has no doubt that the huge level of experience that the tough Geordie has acquired both at home and in Europe with the Steelmen will make him a prime candidate to follow Nicky Law to Ibrox from Fir Park.
The former Wallsend Boys Club star - the same side which produced Peter Beardsley, Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick and Fraser Forster -played alongside former Northern Ireland skipper Stephen Craigan and then ex-Celtic captain Stephen McManus over the last few seasons, proving he would be the ideal new recruit for Gers.
Amd former Rangers stopper Paterson believes the Well No.5 would settle in quickly if previous speculation linking him with the Light Blues was to come to life during the summer.
He said; "For me, Shaun Hutchinson would represent great business for Rangers.
"He has all the attributes to do a great job for the club and, at just 23, he has a tremendous amount of experience to draw upon.
"He is strong in the air, calm in possession and has a decent turn of pace. When it comes to physicality then there is a ruggedness about Shaun that would make him very popular with the Rangers support."
PATERSON added: "He used to contribute quite a few goals from the set-piece in his earlier years and, although of late that has not been the case, there is an ability there in the air for him to be a real menace from a decent delivery once again.
"You look at what Shaun already has tucked away in the bank. He has played in several European campaigns with Motherwell, featured in a Scottish Cup final and been a starter for the club in the Scottish top flight for the last four seasons.
"I think he has played something like 40 games for Motherwell this season and that just shows an incredible level of consistency for a 23-year-old.
"There is absolutely no doubt that a move to Ibrox would benefit Shaun - in fact, I think he would relish it."
Hutchinson was the subject of a transfer bid by English Championship side Millwall last season and has previously courted attention from Reading and Derby.
And Paterson worries that with tensions at Ibrox once again bubbling to the surface, Hutch may see a move south as the safer option.
He said: "I think that Rangers badly need to bring in a centre-back of Shaun's quality but what concerns me is that, with more problems off the field, you wonder if that could put him off.
"Rangers are a massive club and the prospect of playing in front of 50,000 every other week in a league that could be the most exciting in Scotland next season, especially if Hibs go down, will be hugely enticing.
"But you wonder how far Ally has been able to progress his plans for the first team squad next term given the turmoil that is still swirling around Rangers. It may act as a negative influence."
However Paterson believes the fact the powerful Geordie has an in-depth knowledge of the Scottish game and has immersed himself in it since he arrived at Motherwell back in 2008, may help Hutch see the bigger picture when it comes to Rangers.
The 1980's Ibrox defensive ace said: "The fact that Shaun has settled up in Scotland and been here for so long means he knows exactly how big a club Rangers are and what they are all about.
"Obviously you have to balance that against the [English] Championship being a great league in its own right and one that would provide a real platform into the English Premier League, but Rangers are still a massive club in anyone's book.
"The other aspect of this is that Rangers have to make the first move here and the longer they wait to do so - if they are indeed interested in Shaun - the more they risk losing him to England.
"The one thing I do believe is a given is that Shaun will move on from Motherwell.
"When you look at everything he brings to the table then he will be a young man who is going to be in great demand this summer.
"So the ball is very much in Rangers' court right now."