JERMAIN DEFOE has fought it out with many of the world’s top defenders.
But Alan Lithgow insists the Rangers star had better be up for a real scrap against Livingston this afternoon.
Defoe’s storied career has been peppered with goals in the game’s top competitions.
The on-loan Ger has notched in the World Cup, the Champions League, the Europa League and the Premier League.
His first Scottish Premiership appearance saw him score against Kilmarnock in midweek.
But Lithgow, as part of the meanest defence in Scotland’s top league outside of the Old Firm, is relishing the chance to test himself against one of the best strikers in the business.
“It’ll be great to come up against Defoe and see what he’s like,” said the Livi stopper.
“That will be a good test for me. And we’ll see if he fancies it. He might not fancy playing on the astro pitch.
“He’s a good quality player, but I’ll relish the chance of coming up against him.
“With a player like Defoe, who’s played in the Premier League and at a high level throughout his career, it will be a good test for us.
“You look at his career and everything he’s done. I remember admiring him when I was younger and liked how he played.
“Although he was small he was always good at looking after the ball. I’m looking forward to seeing how well I can do against him.”
Lithgow insists his enthusiasm for the task in hand in shared by his colleagues.
Livi’s three-man back line of Lithgow, Craig Halkett and Declan Gallacher – along with goalkeeper Liam Kelly – have provided the foundation for their side’s terrific start to life in the Premiership.
The reason, according to Lithgow, is simple.
“Our team loves defending. We enjoy it,” he said.
“Us and St Johnstone seem to be the only two sides in the league that enjoy defending.
“The four of us at the back just love protecting the penalty box.
“Most of us played together in League One just a few years ago and have come through as a unit.
“We’ve obviously got a bond there, on and off the park. We know each other’s game and always communicate well with each other, that helps a lot.”
Having coped with the step up to the Premiership with ease, gossip has already linked two of Lithgow’s colleagues with Scotland recognition.
Halkett and Kelly both came through the ranks at Rangers and have subsequently had to work their way up the leagues.
They have done so without fuss.
Now Lithgow reckons his mates have proved themselves worthy of playing for the national team.
“I think both have a chance,” he said.
“If they just keep doing what they’ve been doing they’ll get recognised.
“But they’re both down to earth guys with their feet on the ground.”
After losing in midweek to St Johnstone, Livi have now gone five games without a victory in all competitions.
It’s their longest winless run of the season.
But given Rangers’ troubles away from Ibrox, Lithgow is confident Livi can get back on track by staging a repeat of their home win over the Gers in September.
“It will be special to go back to our own park, as we know that Rangers don’t like playing there,” he said.
“Our place has been like a fortress for us this season. A lot of teams don’t enjoy going there.
“Hopefully we can pick up more points.
“We’ve beaten Rangers on it before and our home record overall has been good.
“A lot of people talk about the pitch, but I don’t think it’s as bad as people say. I enjoy playing on it.
“It’s not the same as grass but I like it. I don’t see what the problem is.
“I think it’s just an easy excuse for some people.”