Perhaps one criticism you could make of Steven Gerrard’s title-winning campaign as Rangers manager was the lack of opportunities for young players, but he can put that right by promoting Chris McKee to his first-team at Ibrox next season.
The 18-year-old, who joined Rangers from Linfield in 2018, has been scoring goals for fun in the academy in recent seasons and was rewarded with a new contract with the club in 2020, one which will see him stay with Gerrard’s side until 2022 at least.
He also earned his first call-up to the Northern Ireland U’21s earlier this season as a result of his performances for the Rangers B team, with whom he had scored eight goals by November, which was double the amount scored by any other player, which certainly suggests that he is one of the stars in the academy.
Earlier this month, McKee was sent on loan to Brechin City in League Two, having scored twice and assisted another in a friendly match between Brechin and Rangers’ B team back in November.
Although games have been postponed for all of this year so far as a result of the pandemic, the season resumes this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how McKee performs for Michael Paton’s side.
If he can impress in lower league football then perhaps he will earn a chance to make his debut for Rangers next season, although opportunities for young players in Gerrard’s side have been hard to come by this season.
Other than first-team regular Ianis Hagi, who is 22, we have seen just Calvin Bassey (21) make seven appearances in the league this season, whilst Nathan Patterson (19), has made four league appearances – which is arguably only due to the injury suffered by the influential James Tavernier.
Earlier in the year, Noel Whelan was full of praise for McKee in an interview with Football Insider, saying:
“Rangers have barely paid anything for McKee. He is a young player who knows where the back of the net is so he is worth his weight in gold, he really is.”
Therefore, whilst it may be tough for McKee to force his way into Gerrard’s plans, this loan move to Brechin City represents a real opportunity for him to find his feet in ‘men’s football’ before returning to Rangers ahead of next season, where he can hopefully make a real impression.