Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is furious after seeing teenage star Nathan Patterson handed a ban for breaching Covid-19 regulations.
The ‘Gers boss believes the SFA’s decision could damage the career of “one of the brightest prospects ever”.
Patterson, 19, and four teammates have been handed six-game bans – with two suspended until the end of the season – after a party was broken up by police in February.
Rangers have appealed against the suspensions – which were also handed to Bongani Zungu, Calvin Bassey, Dapo Mebude and Brian Kinnear – although no hearing date has yet been set.
Gerrard said: “I’m not too happy over that and I’m not sure Steve Clarke will be very happy as well.
“Because, unfortunately, he’s going to have a big ban now.”
Gerrard saw Patterson score on Sunday as Rangers eased to a 4-0 win over Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup.
Patterson has starred for the Scottish champions in the absence of James Tavernier, earning rave reviews for his performances.
Earlier this season, Rangers pair Jordan Jones and George Edmundson were banned by the club for two weeks after attending an illegal house party and each served seven-game suspensions.
However Gerrard says the cases are not comparable.
He added: “Nathan is growing and growing. It’s a shame that he’s going to miss games moving forward.
“[The appeal] is something we’re still discussing at the moment. We’re in talks with the SFA over a date.
“The reason for the appeal is we think it’s harsh in terms of what went on on the night.
“I think everyone assumes because of what happened with Jordan Jones and George Edmundson that everything is the same, which isn’t the case.
“We don’t think everything has been taken into consideration when you are talking about the boys in terms of age and how damaging it could be for them in their careers moving forward now.
“You’re talking about one of the brightest prospects ever in terms of right-back.
“This kid is going to go and play for Scotland and all of a sudden the SFA wants to ban him for that long. I don’t get it.”
Asked if he felt the ban might hamper the right-back’s hopes of forcing his way into Scotland’s European Championship squad, Gerrard said: “I’m not saying that at all.
“That’s Steve Clarke’s decision. I know Steve rates him. We’ve had a discussion over Nathan.
“He’s burst onto the scene, played against top teams and individuals and you can see there is a talent and potential there.
“It’s only a matter of time before he becomes an international. That’s not putting any pressure on the player.
“But those decisions are down to Steve.”
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.