FORMER Rangers defender Craig Paterson is confident Lee McCulloch can still cut it at the top level for Rangers - just like veteran stopper Davie Weir did.

After lifting the Third Division and League One crowns in successive seasons the Ibrox skipper will once again lead his side into a title challenge when the Light Blues kick off their bid for the Championship next month.

Boss Ally McCoist has bolstered his defensive line with the captures of Darren McGregor and Marius Zaliukas, leaving McCulloch with a fight on his hands to retain a starting berth in Scotland's second tier.

But former Ibrox star Paterson insists the 36-year-old can still shine in the twilight of his career.

He told SportTimes: "Your experience can make up for the fact that you lose half a yard because you see things early. Davie was the best in the business at spotting danger and getting into a position where he could see it off before it happened.

"It is sometimes hard to see what these players do because they have this kind of radar that allows them to detect a problem and sort it out.

"Whether Lee will be playing regularly in the Premiership, I don't know. It does get harder as you go up through the leagues at that age.

"But I do think he will have a big part to play this year for Rangers."

McCulloch could skipper his side once again when the Light Blues face Sacramento Republic in friendly action tonight.

He admitted this week he would not be averse to stepping back into midfield if needed this term.

And Paterson is confident the versatile star will be one of McCoist's key men as they chase a third straight title.

He said: "Lee knows he will have to earn his place in the team. He is still good enough.

"You tend to go further back as your career goes on.

"He could do a job at the back, he will do a job in midfield and, if needed, we know he can do a job up front.

"Lee is a fantastic lad to have about the club and the dressing room. He is someone you want the young boys looking up to and aspiring to be like.

"He is someone who will go out there and give his all, whether that is trying to score goals or trying to prevent them."