Moving on from Scott Arfield, we take a look at Glenn Middleton.
The 19-year-old experienced a breakthrough few months at the beginning of the 2018/19 season.
Serious injury to Jamie Murphy and early season hamstring problems for Ryan Kent created space in the first team squad, and the manager seemed keen to involve the young winger at every opportunity.
He was awarded a debut against Skhupi in the first game of the season and was initially deployed as a substitute.
Electric pace is his most obvious attribute. Furthermore, in those opening months, he showed a real appetite to take on opposition full-backs.
A first SPL goal came during the 4-0 rout of Dundee at Ibrox in December. Then, just over 10 days later, he notched a brace against Ayr United in the League Cup.
By this point, he had earned the manager’s trust and he even started a crucial Europa League tie away at Spartak Moscow in November. While the Gers would throw away several leads and lose, his excellently taken goal was a highlight of the night.
After Christmas, though, he experienced a drastic change in circumstances. He turned out against Cowdenbeath in the second game back after the winter break. Yet, thereafter, he was limited to just two further substitute appearances all season.
He seemed to take his omission well. Sent back to the various youth and Reserve teams, he scored goals for fun. Important ones, too, including against Celtic in the Glasgow Cup final.
However, Gerrard still seemed reluctant to use him in the first team. Even when named on the bench, Middleton was usually overlooked for a cameo.
Next season, it’s going to get even tougher. Ryan Kent’s future is as yet unresolved, but we know Jamie Murphy will be back fit, while Jordan Jones and Jake Hastie are coming to bolster options in wide areas.
At 19, Middleton still has a lot of developing to do. He started brightly, dipped a little over the winter period and then endured a frustrating few months on the peripheries. It would be unfair to mark him down too much given his lack of opportunities after the turn of the year, though.
Right now, it looks as though he’ll be well down the pecking order for next season. Yet, you never know where graft and the odd slice of luck may take him. One thing’s for sure, his Ibrox credentials are going to be tested.
End of Season Grade: B-
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