Rangers manager Steven Gerrard dangled a carrot in front of exciting Ibrox prospect Leon King by including him in a Premiership matchday squad for the first time on Sunday.

The Gers are currently somewhat short on bodies in defence.

Antwerp FC v Rangers FC : UEFA Europa League

James Tavernier is facing two to three weeks out with a knee injury. ( Photo by Gregory Van Gansen / Photo News ) via Getty Images)

Jack Simpson may have arrived from Bournemouth just as George Edmundson joined Derby County on loan, but Nikola Katic is still out injured, while James Tavernier recently picked up a knock and back-up full-backs Nathan Patterson and Calvin Bassey are also unavailable after breaching Covid regulations.

Those issues have forced Gerrard into moves he would much rather not have to make, such as starting Leon Balogun at right-back against Dundee United.

However, the crisis did provide the manager with a chance to offer Leon King his latest taste of the big time.

The young centre-back was named amongst the substitutes for Sunday’s clash against the Terrors, having already made the bench for Europa League fixtures earlier this season as well as making his senior debut in a League Cup clash against Falkirk in November.

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Falkirk v Rangers - Betfred Cup

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has given Ibrox prospect Leon King several tastes of the big time. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Those other achievements are impressive, but making a matchday squad for an important Premiership fixture is a remarkable achievement for a player who only turned 17 last month.

 

King was likely left disappointed by the recent cancellation of the UEFA Youth League, given that B team fixtures have already been halted due to Covid regulations.

Yet, Gerrard will be hoping that the youngster is spurred on by this latest taste of the big time and by the realisation of how close he is to really breaking through at Ibrox.

King will look to capitalise on the absence of others by making more matchday squads in the coming weeks and if the Gers do manage to wrap up the title early, perhaps a league debut will follow in the closing weeks of the season.

Another promising Rangers youngster is currently impressing whilst out on loan and he helped deal another big blow to Celtic at the weekend.

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