Dumbarton striker Christian Nade has backed Ross McCrorie to handle the pressure of an Old Firm derby should the young defender be thrown into the deep-end at Ibrox this weekend.
19-year-old McCrorie was a second half substitute in Rangers’ 3-1 extra-time win over Partick Thistle in midweek and with Bruno Alves and Declan John nursing strains, and Lee Wallace out for a number of weeks, manager Pedro Caixinha is facing a possible injury crisis in defence.
The Portuguese head coach called McCrorie “the future of Rangers and Scotland at centre-back” after the Betfred Cup victory and said he would have no qualms about throwing him into the deep end when Celtic come to visit on Saturday.
Nade, who played with McCrorie last season when the youngster was on loan at Dumbarton, believes he’s got the mental toughness to succeed, even if he hasn’t played top flight football before.
“I was really pleased for him. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to watch the game and see him play, but when I saw him come on I wasn’t surprised. I knew he would make it at some point,” said the 33-year-old Frenchman.
“The Celtic match is a big game but I think he’ll be fine. He’ll show he can do it, he’ll show he’s a good player and I’m sure he’ll try to forget the atmosphere. He’s got nothing to lose. We all know that Celtic is a really strong team, so he’ll just have to play his game and I’ll sure he’ll be fine.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders so I don’t think the extra attention will be an issue.”
The ex-Hearts striker is a big believer in McCrorie’s abilities and his potential to make a real name for himself in the game.
He added: “He’s actually a really clever player. He’s not going to go and challenge someone much stronger than him. He’s going to play with his head to get the ball before going into the challenges, otherwise he’ll retreat to his position.
“When he came in the first week he was a little bit lost. It was a big change for him. But the more the season went on the more comfortable he became and you could see his abilities to read the game, to react, to be strong. You could see he had a really strong personality, you could see he was a leader, despite his age.
“Everyone knew he would definitely make it.”