Rangers Academy boss Craig Mulholland thinks the win over Hearts on the final day of the Premiership shows that young players will get their chance at Ibrox if they are good enough – as he highlighted how important the Lowland League has been in developing talent like Alex Lowry and Leon King.
The Light Blues ended the win at Tynecastle with seven Academy players on the pitch and Mulholland was delighted to see them take their chance to impress Gio van Bronckhorst.
“Ultimately that was the culmination of a strategy put in place by our Sporting Director Ross Wilson, where the club at first-team level will always look to recruit, we’re Rangers, we must win games and that will never change,” Mulholland said [Rangers TV].
“But we must also see a space for young players to come in.
”What was important at Tynecastle wasn’t only that the players played, when we had seven youth team players on the pitch we went from 2-1 to 3-1 and Cole McKinnon scored. What we’ve seen from this management team is that if the young players are good enough they’ll get a chance.
“When you watch the likes of Alex Lowry speak after his game at Tynecastle, Cole McKinnon, Adam Devine, they all reference the Lowland League as being important,
“All the research suggests you have to make your debut and play against men by the age of 17, we’re trying to expose our players to men’s football as early as we can.
“Had these players not been in the building, been working with our coaches in a Rangers style, not been getting pushed by the sports scientists and analysts every day, they might have been on loan somewhere else and by the end of the season we ended up with 10 graduates having played in the first team, that wouldn’t have happened had those B team players been out on loan.
“Only 15 percent of their week is game day, 85 percent of their week is spent at the training ground, if we look at these lads they’re training with the first team every single day, if they’re out on loan somewhere, they don’t get that exposure.”
Rangers youngsters have clear pathway to the first-team under GvB
There is a clear pathway to the first-team at Ibrox and there should be plenty of opportunities for the likes of Lowry and King to cement themselves in the side.
Getting more of them into the first-team picture would be a big show of confidence in the Academy and the work done by Mulholland and his staff.
While players like Nathan Patterson have been sold for substantial profit, there will hopefully be plenty of chances for the Academy graduates to play a big part in the coming months.
If that happens, the club’s plans to produce talent to sell for profit can become much closer to reality.