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Walter on the youth this season, naming names and describing each one.


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Published Date: 16 August 2009

By Martin Hannan

IN ALL the fuss over Rangers' failure to sign a player during their summer as Scottish champions, very few people have pointed out a possible ray of sunshine for the Ibrox club.

If you're good enough, you're old enough, goes the old football saying, and with the Murray Park academy now regularly turning out youngsters of considerable potential, it may be time for a handful of possible stars to grab their chance for first-team glory with all the long-term benefits that could bring for Rangers.

Manager Walter Smith freely admitted he may be forced to call upon their services, such is the paucity of experienced players at Ibrox should injuries strike – as has happened on the very first weekend of the SPL.

With Barry Ferguson, Christian Dailly, Brahim Hemdani, Chris Burke, Charlie Adam and Alan Gow all gone permanently and Andy Webster and possibly Andrius Velicka away on loan, Smith's cupboard is looking a trifle bare of experience, especially the sort of "stop gap" player who can come in and fill a position for a few weeks.

"A lot of the boys who have left played a part for us," said Smith. "When you look at the end of last season, the likes of Christian Dailly and others came in and did an important bit. Steven Smith came in and played six or seven games in a foreign position for him, wide on the left, but we had to use him.

"Now if it happened to us this season, we would really have to use the younger ones. That's why I'm so wary of injury, but we do have some good young players."

Smith was happy to name the ones he will be looking to bring up from the under-19 side, all of them products of the Rangers academy – defender Danny Wilson, midfielder Jamie Ness, youngest of the group Gregg Wylde, and, of course, John Fleck.

The Rangers fans know all about Fleck, often tipped as a possible superstar. Already a Scotland under-21 cap at the age of just 17, Fleck celebrates his 18th birthday later this month and will be seen in the first team on a more frequent basis, according to his manager.

"He played a few games for us last season and I would hope would play a lot more this season," said Smith. "That would be the natural progression for him.

"It is a bit early for Danny Wilson, as you don't see many 17-year-old centre halves, but he is making progress. But I would hope he would get a game or two this season. Jamie Ness is going to be a good player, but there are not many 17-year-olds ready to play. There are some decent ones coming through, but whether they are ready to play or not is another aspect.

"Potentially they are all decent players, and I would hope that is what we would start to do from Murray Park, to bring in players, so that instead of having an older type of player sitting on the bench and only coming in to cover half a dozen games, we will be using younger players for that. I would hope that we will be able to get the likes of Wilson and Ness some bits of games this season so that they will be ready to play more next season. It will be a gradual introduction for them."

Possible or even probable dependence on youngsters is the direct result of the financial situation at Ibrox which has been well documented.

http://www.scotsman.com/rangersfc/Smith-ne...s-to.5558302.jp

No mention of Aaron however I think it'd be paranoid/harsh to focus on that too much as I'm sure he would only have been asked about Murray Park 'produce'.

I also sense Walter's seemingly (to me anyway) conservative nature with these words:

That's why I'm so wary of injury, but we do have some good young players."

However him saying

I would hope that we will be able to get the likes of Wilson and Ness some bits of games this season so that they will be ready to play more next season. It will be a gradual introduction for them."
shouldn't be scoffed at too much but though I hope he keeps to his word.
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