AMONG the traveling Rangers party being put through their paces in Dubai this week, a number of Academy players are doing everything they can to impress boss Steven Gerrard.
Attackers Dapo Mebude and Kai Kennedy as well as full-backs James Maxwell and Nathan Patterson have all been included in the pool, while Lewis Mayo and Kieran Wright, who have been seen more in-and-around the first-team this season, have also travelled.
Gerrard is now keen to see how they handle life living as first-team players in what he believes to be a “fantastic week for them.”
Speaking to RangersTV, he said: “I’m someone who has come from an Academy setup and worked very closely with Craig Mulholland and Ross Wilson in terms of getting these players ready.
“I think it is a fantastic week for them to live with the first team and see the professionalism of a lot of our players – how they live off the pitch and how they look on it.
“It’s a chance for them to integrate, so we don’t treat them like Academy players – they are treated like first-team players so we expect them to work like first-team players.
“It will be very interesting come the end of the week to see if they have handled it, not just mentally, but physically as well.
“I am certainly a manager, who, at the right time, will give these boys an opportunity, and I will throw the tennis ball right into their court and it is up to them to go and grab that.
“Every single day they are under the eyes of myself, Gary, Mick, Tom and the analysts – there is an opportunity for them to impress and really prove that they are potential first-team players moving forward.”
As well as the youngsters, Filip Helander and Ross McCrorie have also jetted-out to Dubai as they recover from their respective injury issues.
Gerrard explained the reasoning behind bringing McCrorie back to Rangers for his rehab, adding: “Ross has a hamstring injury, and my experience of hamstring injuries is they have to be nursed and you have to be very careful with them, especially if it is a second hamstring injury.
“Ross has got a second hamstring injury, so with all due respect to Portsmouth, he is a Rangers player and I have every confidence in my medical team and my medical staff that he will get the right rehab here.
“We can manage it when he is ready to make sure that when we send him back to Portsmouth, he is 100 per-cent ready to go and play. That’s not disrespecting their medical team – it’s just he is our player so we want to manage him our way.”