Speaking to RangersTV, Rangers captain James Tavernier has praised Lewis Mayo and several other young prospects for their performances in an impressive pre-season victory over Lyon on Thursday night.
The Gers defeated the French giants 2-0 on their own patch courtesy of an own goal from Marcelo and an Ianis Hagi strike.
Steven Gerrard named a close to full-strength starting XI but made a host of substitutions over the course of the game, giving opportunities to a number of fringe players and recent youth team graduates.
For the final 15 minutes or so, a backline consisting of three homegrown players – Mayo, Nathan Patterson and Ross McCrorie – and one young new recruit – Calvin Bassey – kept the hosts at bay.
Tavernier was pleased that all four players held their own.
“You want the boys to learn off us all, learn off the coaches and make a claim for themselves,” he told RangersTV. “They’ve got everything in their hands to be very good players.”
“I’m delighted with the way they conducted themselves in this game. Nathan, Calvin and Rossco – he’s been on loan, he’s got his experience – and I thought Mayo was absolutely terrific, he looked solid at the back. So, I’m really happy with them.”
Given that so much funding has been poured into the Rangers Academy over recent years, supporters want to see homegrown players in the first team.
Appearances in pre-season don’t guarantee inclusions in competitive fixtures, but it is clear attempts are being made to blood youngsters.
Mayo’s plan to get a proper taste of first-team football at Partick Thistle last season was thwarted initially by a niggle and then by the global health crisis, but with both Nikola Katic and Filip Helander currently unavailable, he finds himself closer to the first team than he may have expected to be at this stage in his career.
He certainly equipped himself well against the likes of Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele after his introduction at the Groupama Stadium, though, and he’ll be hoping for more game time against Nice on Saturday evening.