Former Celtic star Kris Commons has hit out at Rangers for "playing the system" to allow Nathan Patterson to face Celtic.

The right-back was a stand-out in the Scottish Cup win over their rivals yesterday but had been among the clubs five Covid rule-breakers.

After an appeal was launched by the club a hearing will be heard on April 20 - two days after the Scottish Cup showdown between the rivals.

Commons reckons the 19-year-old shouldn't have been on the park and believes the SFA allowed the Ibrox men to exploit a loophole in the disciplinary system.

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In his Daily Mail column Commons wrote: "First things first. Nathan Patterson should not have been on the field yesterday.

"The fact that the appeal of the five Rangers players who breached Covid protocols is not being heard by the SFA until tomorrow is absurd.

"The incident happened two months ago and is still dragging on.

"But Rangers are only playing the system because they are able to do so. It's the SFA dragging their heels that have allowed them this option."

The former Parkhead midfielder did praise the performance of the starlet and admits clubs south of the border may come calling if James Tavernier is recalled to the starting line-up.

He believes it offers a major selection headache for Steven Gerrard if Patterson avoids serious punishment from the governing body.

"On the one hand, James Tavernier is Rangers' captain. He's become a much-improved player one who's been central to the success of this season. Naturally, he'll be welcomed back into the side.

"If you were picking a side purely based on merit, though, Patterson if he was available would surely hold on to his place.

"Patterson is now playing at a level where Gerrard will know he can't keep him on the bench. Potentially, I think he's a better player than Tavernier.

"Either he plays for Rangers or he moves elsewhere. Alan Hutton proved years ago that you don't need to be playing for long before the big English sides come calling in his case Spurs. I wouldn't bet against a similar story emerging with Patterson."