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Academy players must earn opportunities – Rangers boss Gerrard

Steven Gerrard has told his Rangers youngsters he does not want to hear their moans and groans about a lack of opportunity at Ibrox.

The Gers boss has a number of exciting prospects coming through his academy ranks, including the likes of Nathan Patterson, Dapo Mebude, Josh McPake, James Maxwell and Kai Kennedy.

But so far the only teenager to be handed a taste of first-team action was McPake during the Light Blues’ Europa League qualifier with St Joseph’s.

However, Gerrard – who did give Patterson a run out against Lokomotiv Tashkent during last week’s training camp in Dubai – insists he is prepared to put his faith in youth but only once they have shown they can cut it alongside his top stars.

Asked if the tight nature of this year’s title race made it harder to blood his younger players, the Ibrox boss said: “It makes a bit tougher of course it does.

“It’s simple, my message to the academy players, if they’re good enough and they’re good enough consistently when they come over and they train with us and when they get an opportunity, if they show that they’re better than the people who are in their place and have the shirt, we’ll look at it and analyse it very seriously.

“I’m someone who is from an academy, I want to give them an opportunity and a taste for it.

“But I’m not someone who buys into all this ‘oh my pathway is blocked’ or ‘my agent has seven other teams waiting for me here there and everywhere’. I’m not interested in it all.

“If you want to play for Rangers and you’re good enough you’ll get there.”

Right-back Patterson could get his big opportunity against Stranraer in Friday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash after skipper James Tavernier was ruled out with an appendix issue.

Centre-back George Edmundson has also been promised a rare start but Gerrard will not be resting all of his main men against the League One minnows.

“You’ll see some changes from the last XI I picked at Celtic Park,” he said.

“We’ve actually got two games here over the weekend. We’ve got Stranraer on Friday night then a bounce game here at the training ground behind closed doors which will enable us to get minutes into the legs to ensure everybody is ready for when the league starts.

“So you will see some changes but you’ll also see a strong side that is selected to Stranraer.”