Kevin Thomson believes Josh McPake can make an immediate impact at Dundee after the winger signed a six-month loan deal with the Championship promotion hopefuls.
McPake’s reputation has steadily grown at Ibrox and he has already been the subject of interest from big English clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester City.
But he has chosen to head to Dens Park to continue his development under manager James McPake (no relation) and Thomson is confident the winger can hit the ground running by starring in next week’s televised Dundee derby.
Thomson is better informed than most about the player’s capabilities, having coached him for the Rangers Under-18s side which won the double last season.
McPake is set for his Dundee debut in Saturday’s Championship clash with Inverness Caledonian Thistle before sampling a Dundee derby on the eve of his 18th birthday at the end of this month. Thomson is convinced the player can take it all in his stride as he takes the next step to becoming a Rangers regular.
McPake, who is eligible for both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, made his debut for the Ibrox side against St Joseph’s in the Europa League last month and was named Rangers Academy player of the year last season.
“The [Rangers] manager [Steven Gerrard] thinks very highly of him after he trained with the first team last season,” said Thomson.
“If I had the Dundee job I would be in raiding Rangers’ reserves for a couple of the players, McPake being one of them. He is more than capable of playing in the Championship, especially a team going for the title.
“If it was a team likely to be struggling at the bottom then Josh McPake might not be the right fit. But for a side who should be dominating most games then someone like Josh could be the answer. I look at Dundee winning 1-0 v Ayr United in their last league game. He could be invaluable in these kind of tricky games when you need someone to unlock the door.
“He is powerful, he is already like a man in terms of build. He likes the rough and tumble and likes body contact. He’s clever with the ball too.”
Dapo Mebude, who made his debut at the end of last season at Kilmarnock, Nathan Paterson and Kai Kennedy, who has already played against Berwick Rangers and Stranraer for the Rangers Under-20s side in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup this season, have all been touted for big things at Rangers as the club bids to improve the ratio of youngsters stepping up from the academy to first-team level.
McPake is another who it’s hoped is on that pathway though with Rangers intent on stopping Celtic’s bid for ten titles in a row, the breakthrough risks being delayed as Gerrard brings in more experienced players from England.
But the former Liverpool midfielder certainly appreciates wingers – from Ryan Kent to Sheyi Ojo. He recently let another promising player in this position, Glenn Middleton, head on loan to Hibernian. Thomson is confident McPake will make the grade and is delighted to report to Dundee fans that they are in for a treat.
“Being a former Dundee player, and having a lot of affection for the club, I am delighted he is heading there,” said Thomson. “He is a clever player. He can look after the ball. He’s one of my favourites, to say the least.
“He can make mistake after mistake and handle frustration after frustration and then tie a defender in knots before putting the ball in the top corner, which is the kind of strong mentality you need as a winger. I’d be very surprised if he cannot influence games at Championship level even at his young age.
“If I got the Dundee job morrow, I’d already have been thinking about trying to get Josh McPake,” he added.