Rangers midfielder Jamie Barjonas has been around the fringes of the first-team at Ibrox for a number of years now – but the 21-year-old faces a make-or-break season this term.
Barjonas made his first-team debut under Pedro Caixinha three years ago but has struggled to really cement his place in the squad as new faces have come into the club.
With his contract up in 12 months time, Barjonas really needs to take that next step and show Steven Gerrard he can contribute to his squad long-term.
Gerrard has spoken highly of the Scotland under-21 midfielder in the past, and it was Gerrard who promoted Barjonas to the first-team squad on a full-time basis shortly before handing him a new contract.
“Jamie moved up to the first team squad only this season and we’ve been impressed with his progress so far,” Gerrard told Rangers TV.
“We believe that he is in the right environment to continue his development and realise his potential.”
The midfielder has been at Rangers since he was nine and has impressed regularly as he’s worked his way through the club’s Academy but the next 12 months will be absolutely crucial for him.
Loan spells at Raith Rovers, Bury and Partick Thistle haven’t helped Barjonas push into the first-team at Rangers and the pressure will be mounting for him to take his game to the next level.
With Ryan Jack, Steven Davis, Glen Kamara, Scott Arfield, Greg Docherty and Ross McCrorie all competing for spots in the starting XI, it won’t be easy for Barjonas to get much game-time to impress.
He was a vital part of Graeme Murty’s Colts team last season in their run to the Challenge Cup semi-final but he really can’t afford to spend much of the season in the reserves.
If he does get a chance to shine, he’ll need to take it with both hands if he is going to have a long-term future at Ibrox – and after 12 years making his way through the various Academy groups, it would be fantastic to see more homegrown talent become Rangers regulars.