Title pressure won’t stop Rangers fielding young players, says sporting director

Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson insists the pressure to stop Celtic winning nine Scottish Premiership titles in a row will not stop manager Steven Gerrard from blooding youngsters in his first team.

The Ibrox club’s bitter rivals are this season looking to emulate a feat first recorded by Jock Stein’s Hoops squad in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

When Walter Smith’s star-studded Rangers squad matched that record of nine straight titles in 1997, it came at a cost for the likes of Barry Ferguson. The then talented teen was denied valuable game time as Smith went with tried-and-trusted campaigners to see Rangers over the line.

The pressure to stop Celtic’s era of dominance is arguably just as high on Gerrard’s men as it was on the likes of Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne when they closed in on Celtic’s benchmark 22 years ago.

But Wilson has assured the Light Blues’ current crop of youngsters they will be given the chance to play their part in toppling Neil Lennon’s team if they can prove they are ready to step up.

The former Falkirk, Huddersfield, Watford and Southampton chief – who replaced Mark Allen last month – said: “Ultimately, Steven is a manager who has come from a background of working in youth football.

“Michael Beale, Gary McAllister, Tom Culshaw, all the guys here absolutely believe in the development of young players.

“If the guys think the youngsters are ready to play, then I’m sure the opportunity will come.

“We understand that the demands of this club can make it more difficult to blood young players than at some other clubs, that’s obvious.

“But we’re sure that if the talent in the academy is good enough, the opportunity will come at the right time.”