Rangers kid Nathan Patterson wants to be like Celtic’s Jeremie Frimpong

Nathan Patterson has revealed that Jeremie Frimpong is his inspiration as the Old Firm prepare to get back into battle
for the most intriguing title race in a decade.

Nathan Patterson, left, and Kai Kennedy with a £450,000 donation for Rangers youth academy. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

Patterson made his Rangers debut last Friday night in the Scottish Cup victory over Stranraer, standing in for James Tavernier.

And with the Ibrox captain absent for the next two weeks at least, the 18-year-old full-back would love to keep his place tomorrow night when the Premiership resumes after the winter break.

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Steven Gerrard’s side – victorious in the last derby just after Christmas – take on St Mirren at Ibrox two points behind and with a game in hand on Celtic, who are at Kilmarnock.

Patterson insists he is ready to cope with that pressure as he attempts to follow the lead of Frimpong, pictured above, who has become a fans’ favourite across the city.

The teenager said: “I just want to be like him basically – to be playing in cup finals and big-pressure games. That is what you want – to be playing in great games. He plays with a smile on his face and that is the best way to be. Pressure is good. You just need to take that pressure into a game and perform.

“I feel I’m ready to play in league games now. I have just played in front of 40,000. I am getting used to the pressure of playing in front of so many fans. I just want to keep going. Playing last Friday was a great experience. Before the game I was nervous, but when I walked out in front of the fans all of my nerves went away. I was buzzing and wanted to get going.”

Patterson added: “I only found out the day before when the manager read out the starting 11 and it was so good.

“I had played in Dubai. It was my first real game playing with the first-team players. They were all great with me and helped me through it and they really helped me against Stranraer.”

Kai Kennedy – also 18 – also got some action last Friday night as Gerrard dipped into the youth academy which has benefitted once more from another donation of £450,000 from the Rangers Youth Development 
Company.

Winger Kennedy said: “It was a dream come true. That’s what I dreamed about as a wee boy and it was good to get the last ten minutes and hopefully there is more to come.

“The manager says it all the time – if you are good enough, you’re playing. So all you have to do is keep working hard in the gym and on the park and it will come.

“I look up to Ryan Kent. I just like the way he takes on people and his decision making. He knows when to go and when to play the ball. If I keep watching him and do what he does then I’ll get a chance one day, too.”

Rangers Academy chief Craig Mulholland believes both Patterson and Kennedy have the ability to follow in the footsteps of alumni like Allan McGregor, Allan Hutton and Charlie Adam. He said: “I have no doubts. The manager has been very clear – if they’re good enough they’ll play. There’s a lot of talk about pathways and stuff but it’s not about that – they’ve got to be better than the guy that’s got the jersey.

“To get in the Rangers team three years ago was maybe easier but you’re now looking at a team that’s in the last 32 of the Europa League. So, they’ve got to understand to get into that team their standards have to go up as well.

“I think these boys can handle the pressure of a title race.

“The key is when they go round to train with the first team, they have to show that they deserve to be there.

“One of the big benchmarks is how much the first team respect them and how much they give them the ball and Nathan and Kai have got that.

“Our task is to give them as many challenges as we can so that when they do get thrown in they’re able to cope with it.”