Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has been a huge success at Ibrox since arriving at the club in 2018, leading his side to the Scottish Premiership title last season.
One area at which he could improve, however, is in bringing young players through into the first-team and making them regular starters. Nathan Patterson’s tally of four was the highest number of appearances made by a young academy player in the Premiership last term.
Whilst a lack of involvement from academy graduates did not do anything to lessen the achievement of last season, fans would enjoy seeing young players get more chances in the first-team at Ibrox. Seeing someone rise through the ranks before becoming a key star in the Premiership would be a rewarding feeling for supporters, particularly those who follow the youth/reserve set-ups.
One player who fans could look out for in the future is Irish central midfielder Charlie McCann. Rangers signed him from Premier League giants Manchester United earlier this year for less than £1m, with McCann putting pen to paper on a three-year contract.
The 19-year-old can play as a defensive midfielder or in a box-to-box role, which could liken him to current first-team player Glen Kamara. Gerrard has placed his faith in Kamara in recent years, with the Finland international a regular fixture in the midfield.
He has, however, been linked with a move to the Premier League and that could mean that Rangers are looking for a replacement for him in the not too distant future.
Instead of splashing out big money to replace him, Gerrard could unearth his Kamara 2.0 by giving McCann a chance to show what he can do at senior level.
Rangers’ head of academy, Craig Mullholland, lauded McCann as having an ‘excellent personality’ upon his arrival at the club in the summer. He told the club’s official website:
“He has an excellent personality which, having met his parents, is driven from a strong family unit and this will allow Charlie to embrace the high quality environment, staff and provision we now have at Rangers. We all wish Charlie well as he starts his exciting Rangers journey.”
This suggests that he has the mindset required to keep progressing and developing as a footballer, to give him the best shot of making it in the first-team. He was a regular for Manchester United’s under-23’s and has been called up by Ireland and England at youth level, which indicates that he could have the potential to go far in the game.
Therefore, the versatile midfielder could be Kamara 2.0 waiting in the wings should the Finn leave for pastures new. He could be the reliable presence in the Rangers midfield that Kamara has proven himself to be, but it is now down to Gerrard to offer him an opportunity in the first-team and then for McCann to show that he can thrive at senior level.