Rangers midfielder Stephen Kelly excelled during his season-long loan spell with Championship side Ayr United – and the 20-year-old’s performances for the Honest Men have been rewarded after he was named their Young Player of the Year, voted for by the Ayr fans.
Kelly’s eye-catching form for Ayr helped push them up the table and into the playoff places before the season was curtailed and Mark Kerr’s side were awarded fourth place.
🏆 | The Ayr United Young Player of the Year, as voted for by our supporters, is midfielder Stephen Kelly.
— Ayr United (@AyrUnitedFC) May 31, 2020
The Scotland under-21 international made 31 appearances under Kerr and his predecessor Ian McCall before the latter quit Somerset Park to take the reins at Championship rivals Partick Thistle.
His time in Ayrshire saw Kelly hit the net six times and his time away from Ibrox has been well spent and will have no doubt impressed the watching Rangers management team.
Kelly scored a hat-trick against Ayr last summer in a pre-season friendly, setting the wheels in motion for his temporary switch to Somerset Park and immediately cemented his place in the starting XI, only missing one game all season after being called up to represent Scotland under-21s as Ayr lost to Wrexham in the Challenge Cup.
Shortly after joining Ayr, Kelly signed a one-year extension to his Rangers contract to tie him to the Gers until next summer and Steven Gerrard may look to loan him to a Premiership side if and when the new season gets underway.
The 20-year-old could even get a chance to impress in Gerrard’s first-team squad but with the Championship the highest level he’s played at so far, another temporary move seems likely.
If he can build on his impressive stint with Ayr, Kelly could well find himself in the Rangers first-team before too long though.