Rangers youngster Barrie McKay has thanked Mark Warburton for giving him a second chance at Ibrox, having been made to feel unwanted under Ally McCoist.
The 21-year-old was twice sent out on loan by the former Gers boss, whereas fellow Murray Park graduates Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird were kept behind to help with Gers’ promotion push.
However, since Warburton took over it is McKay who is now one of the first names on the Gers team sheet, with Macleod struggling for fitness at Brentford and Aird reduced to a bit-part Ger.
The fleet-footed winger claims being shunted out to Morton and then Raith damaged his pride, but the experience proved vital after returning to the club following Warburton’s summer arrival.
“I always felt in my own ability that I could come back and force myself into the team,” the Scotland Under-21 forward said, having accepted a £175,000 cheque on behalf of the club’s youth academy from the Rangers Youth Development Company.
“Obviously the change of gaffer really helped in that sense.
“Being sent out on loan obviously benefited me because I got to go out and pick up some experience.
“But you do feel you’re not really wanted at Rangers at the time and that you’re not really needed.
“But at least I felt Morton and Raith wanted me when I went there.
“I got plenty games under my belt and got to see the other side of football that you don’t see when you’re training at Murray Park or playing at Ibrox.”
Rangers released 14 players following the humiliating collapse of last season’s promotion bid.
McKay was expected to join that exodus having dropped out of the picture under McCoist, but he was given a surprise reprieve when Warburton checked in after leaving Brentford.
The Englishman gave the entire squad a clean slate and McKay has made the most of it so far, featuring in all 28 games the Glasgow giants have played so far.
“We all spoke to the manager when he came in and he said we wouldn’t be held responsible for anything that happened in the past,” the Paisley-born youngster said.
“He told us it was up to us to get hold of the jersey then keep it. Now I just need to keep going so that I can repay him for his faith in me.
“I’ve got a lot to thank him for. He’s come in, given me that chance.
“I’ve played in every game this season and started most of them. That shows how much confidence he has in me.”
McKay will be rewarded for his impressive form this season - which includes five goals - when he pens a new long-term contract in the coming days.
He struck the club’s first league goal after its liquidation meltdown forced Rangers to start again in the Third Division, netting against Peterhead back in August 2012.
Now he hopes to complete what has been a difficult path back to the top in style.
“I started the journey with the club when it first went down,” he said.
“I signed a long-term deal then, so to now be able to say I helped finish off the journey would be a good accomplishment for myself.
“The change at the club has been massive since the new manager came in, with the way we play and other stuff too.
“We’re a lot more attacking, the way everyone wants the game to be played. It really suits me and the other guys to get the ball down, pass and move.”
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