Michael Beale has praised teenage talent Bailey Rice for turning out for the Scotland U17s in Spain just hours before making his first-team debut with Rangers.

The 16-year-old midfielder became the latest Rangers bright spark to breakthrough into the first-team when the former Motherwell kid came on for Ryan Kent with minutes to play v Livingston.

Malta v Scotland - U17 European Championship 2023
Photo by Domenic Aquilina/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The teenager follows in the footsteps of the likes of Nathan Patterson, Alex Lowry, Leon King, Charlie McCann, Cole McKinnon and Adam Devine in breaking through into the first team.

But there is extra excitement about the potential of Bailey Rice given his status in the Scottish game.

Bailey Rice earns praise from Rangers boss Michael Beale

Captaining the Scotland U17s during a recent Spain training camp, the Rangers midfielder was leading his nation out to thump Switzerland 7-0 just 24 hours before making his debut at the Tony Macaroni.

It’s earned the praise of Michael Beale, who has urged Bailey Rice to build on this moment and force his way into the Rangers first-team.

“Listen, it’s been really tough in the time that I have been back, we have had a lot of interaction with the B Team players coming across,” said Beale [Rangers].

“Now they are in a men’s league you get to see them playing against people outside their age range, it’s not age-group football.

“Bailey is only 16 – an interesting one. It’s not foten a young boy gets to play for Scotland on a Friday afternoon in Spain and then come back and make his Rangers debut on a Saturday so what a weekend for that young man.

“He’s at the starting blocks now, the starting blocks is getting a go in the first team and then you have to go and earn everything after that.

“It’s a pleasing moment for everybody that has worked with him, his family as well that have been on his full journey.”

Rangers signed Bailey Rice, 16, in the summer, holding off the likes of Old Firm rivals Celtic and Premier League giants Man City to secure a professional deal for the former Well youngster.

Meanwhile, Livingston manager Davie Martindale has been goading Celtic fans after the Rangers victory.

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