It was a routine win for Rangers against Stranraer to kickstart their Scottish Cup campaign following a couple of weeks of winter break. Steven Gerrard banked on an array of his fringe stars over first-team names, yet he managed to secure a 2-0 triumph on Friday night to make it through to the knockout stages of this prestigious event.
The Bears are on a mission to conquer the Scottish crown drawing an end to Celtic’s decade-long monopoly, and therefore, the squad was reconstructed over the past few windows to increase depth as well as quality. However, the pathway for the academy prodigies has been blocked to a certain extent and the gaffer, despite lauding the youngsters time and again, had little scope of promoting them amid the pressure of attaining immediate success.
But the game against the third tier part-timers saw a couple of debutants emerging through the youth ranks. While Nathan Patterson has already grabbed the attention following a standout display, 17-year-old Kai Kennedy looked impressive too in his maiden senior appearance after coming on in place of Joe Aribo late in the game. Dapo Mebude and Josh McPake had already been rewarded with first-team debuts last year, and Kennedy has now earned the same with the hope of gaining more minutes in the forthcoming future.
What’s Next For Kai Kennedy In Terms Of Senior Football?
Rangers have ample wide options right now with Brandon Barker, Jordan Jones and Sheyi Ojo all fighting for a starting role alongside Ryan Kent and Aribo. Jamie Murphy has slipped way down the Ibrox pecking order following a horrendous knee injury and is now expected to leave on loan in search of regular gametime. Although the youngster has been a part of the Gers’ first-team training sessions for quite a while, Gerrard should bank on the likes of Jones, Barker and Ojo first if he decides to reshuffle his options later in the campaign.
Does He Have A Long-term Future At Rangers?
“If I find an academy kid who is better than someone I have bought, then the kid will play on a regular basis. If the academy kid is consistently better, he will play – it’s as simple as that. As well as bringing success back to Rangers, it is my responsibility to bring local players through as well.”
The manager has cleared (as quoted by the Scotsman) his stance on the Kennedys and Pattersons. None of Ojo, Barker, Jones, Glenn Middleton or Jake Hastie (on loan at Rotherham United) has been impressive enough so the teenagers like Kennedy, therefore, stands a pretty good chance of breaking into the senior side if he stays grounded and continues to make progress as he has done so far at this early stage of his career.
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