A YOUNG Rangers Development Squad take on AZ Alkmaar in Holland today as they continue with their Games Programme.
Graeme Murty’s team are depleted due to injury and first-team involvement but their head coach is seeing the youthful look as a positive thing for his players.
The Gers travel with one Under-16 in Murray Miller, Under-17 Josh McPake and nine Under-18s in the squad. Liam Burt, Aidan Wilson, Jordan Houston, Jack Thomson, Ross Lyon and Rhys Breen are all unavailable through injury while Ross McCrorie, Myles Beerman, Jordan Thompson and Jamie Barjonas are all needed by Pedro Caixinha this week.
Today’s game will be a big challenge for the Development Squad against an AZ team with several Dutch Under-19 internationals but Murty is looking forward to the challenge Dutch opposition represent.
Murty said: “I am expecting a really tough test. From a Dutch side you certainly see a much greater variance in tempo, much more controlled possession rather than possession for possession’s sake but then when they twitch and they go quick you see that tempo.
“They rest in possession better than us and better than English teams, we tend to be a little more hare ‘em, scare ‘em and the Premier League teams tend to be more robust but the Dutch teams are about control, structure, possession and building the game.
“They play off triggers a lot better than we do and I think we need to understand that part of the game where we have more control and thought about our processes and I think that’s why going out to Holland is really good.
“We have a lot of players unavailable, some are with the first-team and that means they can’t get this stimulus but that are getting invaluable work in with the first-team and seeing what that looks like.
“That means we have brought up some young players and the likes of Murray Miller, who is an Under 16 is going to be on the trip as is Josh McPake who is an Under 17.
“It is really important that they see the level these teams are at and then that means that some of the Under 18s like Cammy Palmer, Matty Shiels, Stevie Kelly and Zak Rudden have to take a leadership role because there are young people than them in the team they have to coach and help those players through.
“So in terms of that development that is invaluable but they need to come out of their own little bubble where they are only dealing with their own game and deal with the greater game.
“That is something which I have really noticed has accelerated this year and it is something we need to positively reinforce so it can become a habit for them.”
Seeing his players step up to the first-team is something Murty is finding a sense of pride in, 19-year-old Ross McCrorie is the latest to make his debut, deputising for the injured Bruno Alves in recent weeks.
Jamie Barjonas made the squad against Hamilton before the international break and then the bench for the Light Blues trip to St Johnstone on Friday evening.
Murty continued: “I am proud of Ross and Jamie; it’s great we are in an era when they can get an opportunity and we are really grateful to the manager for looking at the academy and taking those players up.
“For Ross to be brought on when we are seeing the game out and we are managing the game and for him to understand the consequences of that and making sure he gets the tactical thought and the going and winning the game mentality is really good and it can only benefit them.
“I thought when he came on on Friday he looked really good and I was really pleased for him and I was pleased for Jamie getting on the bench too.
“Knowing Jamie he will be itching and desperate to break his way into the manager’s thinking.”