HEAD Development Squad Coach Graeme Murty believes a Rangers colt team plying its trade in a professional league is necessary to provide the club’s Academy players with an appropriate challenge.
The subject of ‘colt’ teams has long been debated in Scottish football, and this season saw them introduced into the Irn Bru Challenge Cup for the first time, with ‘Gers development squad coming up against Stirling University and then Stenhousemuir.
Murty, however, is keen to see the idea taken to the next level and have a young Rangers side competing against senior men’s teams in a professional division.
Speaking exclusively to RangersTV.tv, the former Scotland defender explained: “We want to continue the theory of giving a different type of challenge to our players. For example, we [the under-20s] travelled to Ross County this week, which was a tough game against the team top of the league, while our under-17s flew down to Southampton to give them a cross-border challenge against one of the best academies in the country.
“You look and see that’s great for them, but how can the 20s get a more appropriate challenge that is going to stretch them and challenge them? At the end of it, we have to be judged on a better product coming out at the top end with players challenging for places in the first team, and if we can get a colt team into a men’s league and be challenging for three points and still do the cross-border challenges, then great.
“We need to be brave enough to say, for example, ‘this week we are going play a men’s game on Saturday and in midweek go to play Benfica as they are recognised as the best youth team in Portugal and we can go and look at them and learn from them’ and therefore have the technical challenge from them as well as the mental challenge from the men’s game.
“The broader and more varying experience they have, and the bigger challenge they have, and the more of a challenge with success and failure they have, the better.
“I feel they should have a time when they are the best player, a time when they are at the level of the game and a time when they really, really struggle. We need to have control of that so we can give them the appropriate level of support at the right time.”
The subject of colt teams is always a controversial one in the eyes of some Scottish football supporters, but Murty believes their introduction is doable, and both Rangers and their Old Firm rivals have the ability to achieve it.
He added: “I would like to think it is possible, and if there is one team in the country that could do it, then it will be us, and possibly Celtic as well.
“I think it would be a fantastic challenge for some of the best players in the country to go and deal with that challenge at this time in their career, and rather than sending them out on loan, this could take the place of their first development loan, and we could take care of education on a daily basis and then just drop them into the league for a final ‘stresser.’
“That would be a fantastic thing and it would be a real, unique selling point of the club in terms of attracting players who want to progress through to the first team and be playing in front of 50,000 at Ibrox.”
This is just part of a wide-ranging interview Graeme gave this week to RangersTV.tv. Subscribers can click to watch HERE.