Glasgow Rangers ended their run of three straight defeats in all competitions by winning 2-1 in the Premiership at Ibrox last Saturday to head into the international break on a high.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men had lost their previous three games by an aggregate score of 11-0, against Celtic, Ajax, and Napoli, and were in desperate need of a lift.
They got their boost as the Light Blues beat Dundee United at home in the Scottish top-flight, thanks to a birthday double from summer signing Antonio Colak.
Despite the poor form in the build-up to the game and the senior players available for selection, van Bronckhorst opted to place his faith in the Rangers academy for the clash with United.
Charlie McCann and Leon King were both handed starts ahead of the likes of James Sands, Ben Davies, Fashion Sakala, Malik Tillman, and Steven Davies.
McCann started in the number 10 role and had a solid outing as he completed 84% of his attempted passes and created two chances in 90 minutes. It was his full debut in the Premiership after making two appearances as a substitute last season, in which he won 75% of his individual duels and completed three tackles.
The 20-year-old Northern Irishman earned his chance in the first team after catching van Bronckhorst’s eye for the B team at the start of this season. He has scored four goals and provided one assist in six B team fixtures so far, whilst he also registered an assist for the senior side in the League Cup.
This shows that he is a midfielder who is capable of being a difference-maker in the final third, which he showed glimpses of by creating two chances against United.
His emergence at the first-team level could now allow van Bronckhorst to bin £16k-per-week Rangers veteran Scott Arfield. The former Burnley man is out of contract at the end of the campaign and he will be 34 by next summer.
The dud has not been a consistent performer at the top end of the pitch and that is why van Bronckhorst could benefit from handing more game time to McCann this season with a view to him taking over Arfield’s minutes, allowing the Canadian to leave next summer.