GRAEME MURTY admits he has a selection headache ahead of this evening’s Irn-Bru cup clash with Dumbarton at the Your Radio 103FM Stadium.
The Rangers under-20s coach was mightily impressed with his side’s showing at the weekend as they lifted the Copa del Agatha in the Netherlands, and has many tough calls on his hands ahead of tonight’s game with Stevie Aitken’s Championship outfit.
But, with a strong pre-season behind them and the trophy win at the weekend, Murty wants his boys to do everything they can to keep their good run going.
Speaking to RangersTV, he said: “It is our job to continue the momentum. We have the players in a good place as what we are really conscious of every day when we train is not only the curriculum and their learning, but the mood of the group too.
“If the mood of the group isn’t good after the weekend then it never will be. We have to make sure we don’t give them too much information that they lose that – we have to make sure they go in to the Dumbarton game with that free feeling they had in the final.
“We said to them that they had worked so hard to get there, so we wanted them to go and express themselves. It wasn’t about the coaching staff – it was about them, and we wanted them to go and do their thing. Each of them brought individual bits to the party which was great, so we have to make sure they do that, along with the team’s game tonight to try and get us some success.
“They are really looking forward to it, and I have no doubt I will have people battering my door down making sure they put their talents forward and have themselves in consideration.
“They all are, but I get to be the bad guy again as I can pick only 11 of them. What I am conscious of with this group is how close-knit they are, and they are really supportive of one another so we have to make sure we get that as this is going to be a test – a big test – and we have to make sure we go and embrace it as a group, and regardless of what it throws at us, we show the right, positive mentality and the right response all Rangers teams should show.”
Dumbarton are a side packed with experienced Premiership campaigners as well as a number of former Rangers players in Scott Gallacher, Calum Gallagher, Kyle Hutton and Tom Walsh, while their new assistant coach is none other than Gers legend Ian Durrant.
With two draws in the second tier so far, Murty reckons Gers are in for a tough test against the Sons – although that is precisely what he wants his side to be facing.
He continued: “We saw the draw, and I think we possibly go the hardest draw of all the colt teams. Some people were disappointed with that as they wanted an ‘easy one’ – but I didn’t.
“I want the biggest test I can get all the time for the players, and the players know that, so the bigger the test, the greater the struggle they have now, then the better they are hopefully going to be prepared for our first team.
“We have to ensure they are properly prepared and we have to ensure they have everything they need, but we have to ensure they are supported in the right way so they can go and be great. That’s the only way we can go and get a positive result.
“We relish the challenge and we relish the struggle as it were, and I can’t wait for the players to go and experience it as there will be times they struggle, times they are not sure and times when it is difficult for them with a crowd and against this opposition, but this is where we are going to learn most about them so we can help them improve and get them to the next stage.
“I would encourage anyone to come and see the team, bearing in mind they are young people, but they need to experience the Rangers support, they need to experience the expectation and they need to experience people demanding things from them.
“I am going to be really interested to see which of them grow, which of them freeze and which of them have a little bit of a wobble because we will be there, on hand to pick them up and make sure they still know we think they are very, very good players, and we are right behind them.
“They need to know wherever they go and play, they need to handle it and go and display their talent. I have no doubt if we give them the right level of support both with our staff and with our supporters who are going to come and watch, they can go and play really, really well.
“I am confident they can do that, and I am really, really interested in what tonight brings.”