By the time the game finished at Easter Road yesterday Rangers had six academy products on the pitch. Robbie Ure, Ross McCausland and Arron Lyall did only get a couple of minutes each but that’s not the point. McCrorie, King, Lowry, Ure, McCausland and Lyall were on the pitch when the game ended and that’s still something to be proud of.
This season has also seen Rangers use 12 academy products throughout the season. This is two more than last term, so, is the academy heading in the right direction?
The list of academy products to step onto the pitch for the first team this season are;
- Robby McCrorie
- Leon King
- Adam Devine
- Alex Lowry
- Robbie Ure
- Zak Lovelace
- Ross McCausland
- Arron Lyall
- Paul Nsio
- Archie Stevens
- Bailey Rice
- Charlie McCann
Leon King played plenty at the beginning of the season and Devine stepped in while Barisic recovered from the World Cup. McCrorie is now starting to get minutes to end the season and when he’s been fit and ready, Lowry has been in and around the first team.
Apart from that none of the aforementioned players have played any significant minutes for the first team. So is it really a step forward? Should the use of 12 academy products be celebrated when the majority have played less than one half of football?
Next season will be huge for some of these players. With McGregor assumed to be retiring McCrorie is, currently, the favourite to be number one next season. That’s assuming the club don’t sign another goalkeeper though and rumours suggest a deal for Jack Butland is close.
Adam Devine hasn’t played a minute in the SPFL since the beginning of January. He also played out of position when he was in the team and was solid. How does the fact he hasn’t been seen on the pitch in months bode for him though? The club also seem to be targeting a lot of defenders and most of them can play at full back too. Players like Auston Trusty and Dujon Sterling can play across the back line. Will he get any chances next season?
Leon King is an interesting one, thrust into the first team early in the season due to injury. He played the most minutes in the Champions League of any player U20 then hadn’t been seen since before the World Cup.
He came into the team at a tough time and at times was partnered by James Sands and John Lundstram, neither natural CBs. Rangers were poor and King struggled at times but he was an inexperienced 18 year old playing against the best in Europe. He showed he has potential to be great, he just wasn’t ready for that big of a step up, yet.
He came back into the team yesterday and strolled it next to Jon Souttar. It was a great display to remind fans of the potential he has. Newcastle were rumoured to be interested at the start of the season which indicates how highly rated he is. He’ll probably get more game time between now and the end of the season to further show what he’s capable of.
Alex Lowry is a player of immense potential. Scotland don’t produce many players who play with the creativity and freedom that he does. He’s been unfortunate this season with injuries and personal issues limiting his game time.
There’s no doubting his ability and potential so hopefully next season he gets more game time to help his progression.
Zak Lovelace and Bailey Rice and both players the club hold in high regard. Unfortunately, for the club and fans, both are away at the U17 Euros so won’t get any more first team minutes this season.
There are a handful of players at the club capable of being first team regulars. King, Lowry, Rice and Lovelace have a real chance of making it at Rangers. Devine could also be added to that list but his ceiling seems more likely to be a squad player.
Does academy players making it to the first team count as a success? Is the academy only successful if the club sells players on like they done with Patterson? Or is success brining through someone like Allan McGregor and them reaching 500 games for the club?