Rangers, despite years of disappointment, seem to be a rejuvenated force once more under Steven Gerrard, the former Liverpool and England midfield icon who has transformed them into prime title contenders following some stupendous summer business and philosophical metamorphosis. The new Gers chief has wrapped up an array of new signings, yet he has kept his focus on youth development and rewarded game-time to academy prospects at senior level.
Glenn Middleton, the 18-year-old winger, has been quite regular in Gerrard’s plan and has earned improved contract terms that tied him down at the Ibrox until the summer of 2023.
“Very happy, very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given so far this season and very grateful for them recognising what I’ve done so far and giving me a new deal.”
The youngster expressed his delight on penning the new deal. Things, however, were entirely out of order earlier this year when the Scotsman was released by his youth side Norwich City despite being handed a squad number for first-team football. He never had his senior debut for the Canaries and opted to reunite with Graeme Murty, the then Rangers boss who trained the winger while in charge of Norwich’s youth development. Middleton, an ardent supporter of the Bears since his childhood days, took little time to settle in and excelled for the U20s.
An impressive pre-season earned Gerrard’s attention who finally handed him his senior debut at Ibrox in their Europa League first qualifying round fixture against FK Shkupi. Middleton netted his first league goal after coming on as a substitute against Dundee and scored a brace against Ayr United in a League Cup tie which has been his only start so far for the senior side.
He prefers to operate from the left flank and has emerged as an option behind Ryan Kent, the Liverpool loanee, who is in blistering form since replacing injured Jamie Murphy down wide. The young attacker has represented Scotland in several youth levels and is currently featuring for the U21s on a regular basis. His experience in England with Northampton Town and Norwich City has helped him grow above his age group which, in turn, has made him mature enough to meet Gerrard’s demand in all these prestigious competitions.
Although there is enough scope for improvement, Middleton must keep his head down and work harder to ensure a long-term future with the Glasgow Rangers. It is yet to be decided whether Ryan Kent’s loan move would be made permanent next summer.
Moreover, there is no timeframe on Murphy’s return following a knee surgery whereas Eros Grezda is likely to take time before settling in new surroundings. The youngster, therefore, must grab his chances with utmost sincerity and keep up the good work to earn an even bigger role next season.
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