Former Rangers defender Alan Hutton has said that he would like to see youngsters such as Kai Kennedy making the breakthrough to the first team at Ibrox.
The 17-year-old winger had trained with the senior squad prior to last weekend’s game against Hamilton, with manager Steven Gerrard including him in the travelling party for the fixture, telling Rangers TV [via Rangers News] that he had strongly considered naming him among the substitutes.
Gerrard felt that the youngster had earned that opportunity, saying: “It’ll be a good experience for him because he’s certainly a talent. There’s a lot of work to do with him, but we certainly see a bright future for him.” [Rangers TV, via Rangers News]
When asked by Football Insider if he thought Kennedy could make his senior debut at some stage this season, Hutton replied: “I hope so. I’m a supporter as well, that’s what I want Rangers to be like, you want the kids to come through.”
The ex-Scotland defender added: “He’s obviously doing very well, for it to be such a serious time of the season, for Gerrard to be even thinking to bring him into the squad, that just shows you how much belief he’s got in him. He wouldn’t make that decision lightly. He obviously thinks highly of him.
“It’s a big time, I think Rangers need the boys coming through – it’s great for the club, it’s great for the supporters, you love to see it, the young boys coming through. Hopefully, they can start getting involved more regularly.
“There’s a lot of games coming up and I’m not sure this is the ideal time to bleed them in but hopefully come the turn of the year they can break into the first-team.”
Hutton’s point about Gerrard giving careful consideration to Kennedy’s inclusion in the travelling party for the Hamilton game is a pertinent one, with the manager not inclined to use young players frequently.
Jake Hastie and Josh McPake are the only two players aged 21 or under to feature for the first team this season, with the duo getting 69 and 23 minutes before being loaned out to Rotherham and Dundee respectively.
Two other under-21s – Jamie Barjonas and Lewis Mayo – have made the bench for the senior side on one occasion but were not called into action by Gerrard. [via TransferMarkt]
Therefore, for the manager to come so close to naming Kennedy among the substitutes for the game at New Douglas Park hints at just how highly the 17-year-old is rated, given how rarely Gerrard has included youngsters in his matchday squads.
Hutton’s hopes that young talents such as Kennedy could become involved more regularly may be boosted by the rising fortunes of some of the club’s academy prospects.
Right-back Nathan Patterson, who was compared to Hutton by ex-Gers striker Peter Lovenkrands, recently signed a new contract with the club (as per Football Insider), while 16-year-old forward Nathan Young-Coombes scored twice in this week’s UEFA Youth League win away to Slovan Bratislava, one which took Graeme Murty’s side into the third round of the competition (as per The Scottish Sun).
With so many youngsters demonstrably hinting at a very bright future, it is quite understandable why Hutton is clamouring for Kennedy and his teenage colleagues to be rewarded with first team opportunities in the foreseeable future.
Rangers fans, do you agree with Hutton’s wish to see youngsters like Kennedy getting first team chances? Tell us what you think by commenting below!
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