WHILST the Rangers side was defeating Hibernian at Ibrox this week, there was also and Academy side wearing the famous blue shirt also playing, in Northern Ireland.

The Academy held a development day to look at some of the most talented young players in Northern Ireland.

The day was the culmination of a year of hard work by the Academy scouting team within Northern Ireland, lead by our scout in the country Phil Cowen.

Cowen identifies the most talented players at the under 15 age group who then come together for a presentation on Rangers Academy, a coaching session, lunch and a match.

The coaching session and presentation was led by Rangers U15 coach, and former Northern Ireland international, Andy Kirk while Head of Academy Recruitment, Billy Mclaren travelled over from the Academy and works closely with Phil to assess the talent.

The next stage for some of these players is an invitation to the Academy for further assessment with the current Rangers U15 squad.

Head of Academy, Craig Mulholland commented “Phil Cowen our scout in Northern Ireland undertook a tremendous amount of work to pull together the Academy Development Day which lets us assess some of the best talent coming out of Northern Ireland.

“Phil along with Billy Mclaren and Andy Kirk try to allow the young players to experience, as close as possible, the Academy philosophy, culture and curriculum in a day which is enjoyable for the young players, but important for us in identifying the best talent.

“Billy, Phil and Andy do an excellent job in getting to know the attributes of the players, benchmarking against the potential of the players in our own group and ensuring that the any players that are selected to come to the Academy fit the club wide player profile model for a Rangers player.

“Our team will look at the technical, game awareness and physical attributes of the players, but also importantly their personality and character, to ensure that they have a growth mindset, are coachable and fit with type of player we are trying to recruit and develop in the Academy, who are hungry, disciplined and desperate to be footballers.”

Rangers have been graced by the talents of many Northern Irish players in the past including more recently Andy Little, Dean Shiels, Steve Davis and Kyle Lafferty.

Mulholland continued, “Northern Ireland is an important area for us given the huge Rangers fan base and the obvious synergies in the culture which allows a player to settle easier in Scotland.

“We invited many of the players club coaches and parents to the development day to ensure they are aware of the good work and new strategy being implemented within the Academy and to continue to raise the profile of the culture of excellence we are setting out to create.

“We will also follow this up in January with games between Rangers teams and the Northern Irish national squads at the 13’s to 15’s age groups.

“Almost all of the large Premiership clubs have a large presence in the country and initiatives such as the development day ensure that Rangers are at the forefront when competing for the very best young players.”

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