PEDRO CAIXINHA insists he will have no second thoughts about playing 18-year-old Myles Beerman and 20-year-old David Bates in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final showdown against Celtic.
Both defenders have started Rangers’ last three matches against Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and Partick Thistle and helped keep three clean sheets to begin their first-team careers in the best possible way.
This weekend’s Old Firm showdown will be an altogether different challenge and experience for the club’s Academy graduates, but Caixinha will have no hesitation in giving both players the opportunity to sample a derby match in front of a packed national stadium and a huge global TV audience.
The gaffer is hoping Clint Hill will return to training this week but, if he is not available, he has confidence in centre-half Bates and left-back Beerman.
Speaking to RangersTV at the training ground this morning, he said: “I think if they want to become Rangers players they need to adapt to those scenarios or those circumstances.
So far they have done very well, the team has done very well and helped them also to be on the same wavelength, so if they need to play or if they need to start that game I have no problems with that.
“From today we are going to start working with the team that is going to be present on Sunday.”
On Clint Hill’s ongoing recovery from a hamstring injury the manager is unsure if the experienced stopper will be available for selection.
He added: “He’s still recovering and so far today he’s not going to be with us. I don’t know if tomorrow or after tomorrow he’ll able to be with us.
“As I told you we start today preparing for a match on Sunday and if Clint can be with us, perfect, he’s a valuable and experienced player, he’s a warrior and someone who is always looking to help us and always demanding from teammates.
“We like those sort of players and if he can be with us, perfect.
“If not, others will do their jobs in the same way because this is a collective work, this is teamwork and we need to think and keep thinking the same way.”
Caixinha admits he has been pleased with his side’s defensive record since he joined Rangers but he will be asking for more from the players in the back-to-back battles with Celtic at Hampden and Ibrox.
He said: “We play five matches so far and we only concede one goal so I think it is really interesting, with four clean sheets overall.
It’s very important in modern football for you to keep your goal without conceding, so that means that the defensive process or the defensive organisation of the team has been done collectively, but we want more.
“Today we are going to work on some of those aspects, especially how we make the shift across on the wide areas, how to close the wide areas and how to take the time and space from the opponent.
“It’s one point that we will want to really improve, even if in five games we just concede one goal.”