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Fleck on the bench


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Btw, kinda off topic... where is webster?

Anyways, nice to see fleck getting the chance to play, will he be our youngest ever professional start? Think he'll get 45 minutes under his belt if we have a few goals.

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Anyways, nice to see fleck getting the chance to play, will he be our youngest ever professional start?

I think Bill Davies claims to be our youngest ever player but that was in a tour match. Be interesting to know who our youngest ever player in a competitive game is.

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Fleck A Special Talent Says Walter

Jan 12 2008 By David McCarthy

THEY are letting the kids in for free at Ibrox tomorrow but one of them will arrive hell-bent on getting up to all kinds of mischief.

John Fleck is the lad’s name and unlike the rest of the youngsters who will flock to Rangers’ Scottish Cup tie with East Stirling this kid won’t be sitting in the stands hoping to watch a goal-fest.

He’ll be hoping to contribute to it.

Fleck is only 16 and poised to become the first boy of that age to make his competitive debut for the club in almost 25 years.

The stocky attacking midfielder will start the tie on the bench but will almost certainly be thrown into the fray at some point by Walter Smith, who is one of many people at Ibrox and beyond who believes Fleck has a massive future in front of him.

Smith knows all there is to know about nurturing teenage proteges, having taken a certain Wayne Rooney under his wing at Everton, but the wily old Rangers boss wasn’t entertaining any comparisons between the two yesterday.

However, he was more than willing to speak about Fleck and to voice the opinion he is a special talent in the making.

His team-mates agree - Steven Naismith spoke of how the teenager is often the best player in training when he is put in with the top-team squad.

Fleck has played for Scotland Under-16s at 14 and the Rangers Under-19 team at 15. He is now a regular in the Ibrox reserve side and has already sat on the bench for the first team this term without making the pitch.

That will almost certainly change tomorrow, though, and Smith is looking forward to seeing him in action.

The Ibrox gaffer said: ‘‘John will be on the bench. He is just about right just now and has been training with the first team for a wee while. He is a boy who will play early - just how early I’m not quite sure.

‘‘But he is doing really well. It looks as if he is going to be a really good player.

‘‘The games at Under-19 level and the reserves have shown his age has not precluded him from standing out in that kind of company.

‘‘We’re going to give him an opportunity at different times but it is not just because it is the Cup.

‘‘The Under-21 rule still exists in the Scottish Cup but I was going to use him anyway.’‘

Fleck is unlikely to be the only boy on the bench tomorrow as Smith is looking to give reserve team captain Dean Furman and striker Giorgos Efram a taste of the big time.

And he believes the next crop of homegrown talent is waiting to follow in the footsteps of a host of players who have come through the ranks to stake claims for regular places in the first team.

Smith added: ‘‘If you look at the Rangers team at the moment we have McGregor, Smith - just coming back from injury - Adam, Ferguson and Burke who have all come through the younger sides and are finding themselves playing in the team.

I think we’ll have that from now on.

‘‘We have one or two other boys as well, not just John Fleck. Furman is another one who is doing well and Efram, too. It’s just a matter of when they can get an opportunity to come in and play.

‘‘When they continue to show up well at Under-19 and reserve team level they are going to get an opportunity to dip their toe in it.’‘

Striker Naismith believes Fleck is ready to do more than just tip his toe in - the former Kilmarnock attacker is convinced he is ready to plunge straight into the first-team pool.

He said: ‘‘John has trained with the first team quite a bit since I came here. Some days he’s one of the best at training and at other times he’s maybe just on a par with everyone else.

‘‘It’s only later when you stop and think he’s still just 16 and a kid growing up that you realise what a phenomenal talent he is.

‘‘His all-round game and touch is excellent. He’s not the biggest of boys but he can hold his own when the defenders are closing in on him.

‘‘He is doing tremendously well and long may it continue.’‘

Naismith believes Fleck’s development is in the best possible hands with Smith at the helm.

He added: ‘‘The right folk are here at the club to help him mature and not rush him through things. He’s in at the deep end but he’s not out of his depth. It’s good experience for him right now being about the first team.

‘‘The manager has been around for a while and first time around he brought through the likes of Ian Durrant.

‘‘He knows what he’s doing and you also have Durranty taking the younger lads and Ally McCoist and then Kenny McDowall when they get to the first team. It’s a good bunch of coaches to have bringing you through the ranks.’‘

Naismith may find himself sitting beside Fleck on the bench tomorrow as Smith freshens up the side but having been part of the Killie team knocked out of the Cup by Morton last season he is desperate to be part of an extended run this year.

He said: ‘‘When you are in football, you want to be at Hampden in May getting your hands on the Scottish Cup. It’s a dream of everyone who plays football and I hope this season can be my turn.’‘

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Btw, kinda off topic... where is webster?

Anyways, nice to see fleck getting the chance to play, will he be our youngest ever professional start? Think he'll get 45 minutes under his belt if we have a few goals.

Still on the road to recovery. Smith did talk about the end of the month for both him and Stevie Smith.

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From what I have heard about Fleck apparently he likes to play behind another forward player as a floating second striker. This role is similar to the one Wayne Rooney occupies for both England and Manchester United so hopefully that's where the comparisons between the two come from - and not just because they have a similar body frame. If he's half as good as Rooney then that will be another bonus.

I'm trying to go tomorrow, and I imagine there are many more like me, because this is hopefully the first time we'll see him play having heard of him for so long. I actually went to the under 19's final at Hampden and I was impressed with his role in the win. I hope he's half as good as the hype would suggest and he can deal with it. It's easy to stand out in the younger and reserve levels - Pele said Gary Bollan was one of the best player he'd seen at his age and McSwegan and Spencer were scoring an amazing amount in the reserves. We'll see how he copes with the transition into a first team player at Ibrox. Here's hoping we're saving ourselves a lot of money in the transfer market if he's the link between midfield and attack we need. He could also be sold on at some point in the future - a lot of teams are interested at a young age and I'm sure they'll be interested in seeing how he develops at Ibrox. Good luck to him - he was quite clearly delighted to win the under 19's Scottish cup for Rangers and I'm sure he'll experience it with the first side aswell if all goes well.

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is it not 5 subs for cup games im not 100% sure

Yip 5 as there is no under 21 rule (tu)

read JR's post as U21 rule does apply in scottish cup

Celtic and Hearts didn't have 3 under 21's in their squad and I do not remember this rule applying in cup competitions as it is run by the sfa.

The under 21 rule is an SPL initiative.

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