Rangers loanee playing regularly at English club after January Ibrox exit
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Rangers loanee playing regularly at English club after January Ibrox exit

Rangers loanee Stephen Kelly is playing an important role for Salford City after his much-needed temporary Ibrox exit in January.

After an impressive stint in the Scottish Championship with Ayr United and a decent first crack at the Premiership with Ross County, Kelly was brought into the Rangers first-team setup by Steven Gerrard.

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He featured in pre-season and impressed supporters but received next to no opportunities when the competitive action began.

The midfielder made brief substitute outings in Europa League Qualifying and the League Cup and the only other competitive football he saw during the first half of the season came for the B Team in the Challenge Cup.

Given that his fortunes didn’t improve after Gio van Bronckhorst’s arrival, it was clearly the right thing to do to allow him to head out on loan last month.

Rangers loanee Kelly starting to impress at Salford

Since then, he hasn’t been hitting the headlines with outstanding performances, but he’s been ticking over nicely and has established himself in an important midfield role in recent weeks.

It understandably took Kelly a while to get up to speed after several months without a run of matches, and four of his first five outings for the Ammies lasted 45 minutes or less.

However, the 21-year-old now looks to have nailed down his place, playing all but three minutes of their last three EFL League Two matches.

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Salford won two of those fixtures and drew the other, leaving them just six points outside the playoff spots, and Kelly’s most recent display was arguably his best yet for his adopted side.

In a 2-0 win at Leyton Orient, Kelly played 87 minutes in midfield and received a strong SofaScore match rating of 7.1.

The Gers loanee had 65 touches of the ball and played one key pass, creating one big chance.

He’ll be aiming for better than the 74% pass accuracy he produced, but he was strong defensively, making three clearances, blocking one shot and making two tackles, while he wasn’t dribbled past.

Next up is a clash against fifth-placed Swindon Town on Saturday afternoon.

Given that there’s still 15 games left for Salford in the league, Kelly has a real chance to kick on now and impress the coaching staff back at Ibrox.

Meanwhile, a former Rangers star is reportedly set to be offered an £8.3m-a-year contract as a manager.

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