Mark Hateley has tipped Kevin Thomson to come back stronger than ever from the second serious knee injury of his career - and even become a future Rangers captain.
Thomson is almost certainly out for the season after suffering major damage to the cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Ibrox midfielder will see a specialist in London on Wednesday to determine just how bad the injury is.
The 24-year-old missed 11 months of his early career at Hibernian after tearing his cruciate as a teenager, but Hateley believes he can come back mentally and physically stronger from his latest setback, saying: "I think the experience of recovering from one bad knee injury will stand him in good stead for this one."
He added: "He's only a young man and he's smart as well and I'm sure he'll come back not only physically stronger but mentally stronger as well.
"You do get injuries as a young player - I had a few myself - and they test you to the limit sometimes, especially long-term injuries.
"I was (out for) two years with my ankle and it takes you right to the limit. But you come back mentally stronger and Kevin is so young and has the experience of recovering.
"Sports science is progressing so quickly that I'm sure he's in the best hands possible."
Thomson had been producing the best football of his Rangers career before his knee buckled under the weight of Kilmarnock striker David Fernandez during Saturday's 4-0 win for Walter Smith's men. But Hateley has always been convinced the Scotland cap could be a key player.
The former England striker said: "I think Kevin's a really good player, I always said so.
"People criticised Rangers for signing Kevin Thomson - a lot of people couldn't figure out what he did in the side. But you take Kevin out - as when he was injured last season - and Rangers suffer."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.