FOR months now, it has been only a matter of time before Rangers win League 1. But, no matter how inevitable it seems that the title will be on its way to Ibrox, there are some players for whom confirmation cannot come quickly enough.
They are Gordon Durie’s under-20s squad, who know that the sooner success is in the bag, the sooner they can expect to be involved in the first team. They have already shown they deserve a chance, having won their last nine games in the SPFL Under-20s league and made it through to the quarter-finals of the SFA Youth Cup, where they will play Dunfermline at Ibrox on Sunday. Now they cannot wait for that chance to be granted.
“We’re on a good run with the under-20s just now and the manager has stated that if the first team wins the league early enough a few of them will get their shot,” Durie said yesterday. “Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird are there just now and there have been three or four in the squads throughout the season.
“The boys see the likes of Fraser and Lewis getting their opportunity and they are coming into training and getting involved with the first team. That’s what they’ve all got to aim for.
“A lot of them have trained with the first team and not looked out of place. Andy Murdoch made his debut a few weeks ago against Stenhousemuir, but unfortunately he’s out injured at the moment.
“Charlie Telfer has been on the bench and Craig Halkett was a sub on Saturday. Luca Gasparotto was involved last year and just has to work hard to get his opportunity again.
“The good thing is that the boys all know the manager comes to all the under-20 games and is watching for them. The manager will try to strengthen again in the summer, but it’s good that a number of boys have come in to train with them and he knows what they’re capable of. I know if they get the call they won’t let themselves down.”
Victory against Dunfermline at the weekend will do the young players’ cause no harm, and Rangers are favourites, having already beaten the Fifers twice this season. Once concern for Durie, however, is the Ibrox factor: the under-20s play most of their home games at the Bet Butler Stadium, and did not look entirely at home the last time they played at their own club ground.
“We play our home games at Dumbarton,” Durie explained. “We actually played against Motherwell at Ibrox earlier in the season and that was the poorest performance of the campaign, so hopefully they have that out of their system.
“It’s a great place to play and I’ll be telling them to enjoy it and express themselves. That’s where they should be aiming to play every fortnight for the first team.”