GRAEME MURTY had no second thoughts about including 17-year-old defender Jordan Houston on the bench at Dens Park on Sunday.
The young full-back was promoted to the first-team squad for the Premiership fixture against Dundee with Lee Wallace out of action through injury, and his inclusion was a pre-match surprise for Rangers fans who had travelled to Tayside.
Houston has been a standout performer for the club’s under-20 side recently and Murty, speaking to RangersTV at the training ground, explained his decision for naming the talented teen as one of his seven substitutes in the City of Discovery.
He said: “Well, Lee [Wallace] has come out of the squad, rightly because of a muscle problem, so you look at the next person in the pecking order, and the next person in the pecking order was out of him and Myles Beerman who is doing quite well for the 20s.
Jordan can play right and left side so that’s why I looked at Jordan. But he’s doing well, he’s only a young man but he has some very fine qualities and I think it’s important that you recognise people are doing well.
“It doesn’t matter to me how old they are. If you look at the 20s squad we have a 15-year-old playing in it regularly, we have 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds and I don’t care if you are 38 or 39 as some of our players are, or if you are 15 or 16, if you deserve to be in the squad, if you display the attributes that a Rangers player needs to show then you will have an opportunity.”
On the qualities Houston has, the club’s caretaker boss continued: “The main thing that Jordan possesses, apart from his physical attributes because he is a robust young man, is that he is emotionally very stable, which is unusual for a young person.
“He is never too high or too low, he’s quite pragmatic, but he’s ready to go, mentally he’s ready to go, emotionally he’s ready to go.
“I think quietly, and you’ll never see it on his face, but quietly he’ll have a little bit of satisfaction. He might have a quiet smirk but that’s all you’ll ever get from him, that he’ll feel a little bit of satisfaction.
“Hopefully this will have lit a little fire under him that he wants to do it again and again and again, and further down the line hopefully it will light a fire under the rest of the squad to say ‘I want a piece of it as well’.
“So for me it was a no brainer and people have said ‘Why have you done it? Is there a deeper meaning?’
“The meaning behind it is that he deserves to be in the squad because of his displays and if you actually put it into effect the things we want you to do, the first-team squad is there to be accessed. But you need to be good enough and Jordan in the last couple of weeks has been.”
In the second half at Dens Park fans wondered if Houston was going to make his first-team debut as he warmed up alone in front of the packed away end of the ground.
Murty said: “Lee [Hodson] took a knock in the second half but if I had had to put him on I would have put him on.
“I don’t believe in bringing people into the squad as a reward, you’re in there because I might need to call upon you in the second minute.
“I’ve got no qualms about doing it and will it be difficult for him? Yes. Will it be hard for him? Absolutely. Can he be ready and can he do it? I think so. Without wanting to put too much pressure on him it’s there to be experienced and learn from.
“He found it difficult with the result as we all did, but I think it will have been a proud day for him and his family and one, I hope, he has a burning desire to repeat. I’m sure he has.”
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