THIS week Rangers stars Liam Burt and Ryan Hardie have been in action for Scotland’s Under-21 side and Mark Warburton insists this is the level every Academy player at the club should be aiming for while they try to become first-team stars with the Light Blues.

The manager is a passionate believer that homegrown talent should be be given a pathway to senior football and he insists that youngsters at Rangers will have just that if they can rise to the top at their respective age groups.

Speaking to RangersTV on Tuesday, he said: “We’ve got to set a series of challenges and that’s one of them, to get boys in [their country’s] Under-21s, in the 19s, in the 17s, in the 16s Victory Shield teams.

We need to make sure we are getting the best young talent and they are being developed here at the club with a pathway through to our first team.

“That’s why the Academy exists and that is why we are here as a club.

“Congratulations to the Academy and to Liam and Ryan, to get those boys in the Under-21s is a great achievement.

“What now? Get more of them through, get more in the 19s, get more in the 17s, get more star billing in those teams as well and make sure their profile is raised and, as I say, their pathway is clear for them to go and play for Rangers’ first team.”


Warburton knows his job is to build a team for Rangers which consists of the best players possible, and the manager admits the challenge for the coaching staff in the club’s Academy is to produce young, homegrown players who are better than ones he can buy or take on loan from other clubs.

He explained: “Yeah it’s important, and Craig Mulholland (Rangers’ Head of Academy) knows where I’m coming from and the staff.

“I saw England’s Under-17s beat Germany Under-17s 8-1 which is really an eye-catching result.

“I look at the quality of talent coming through the English academy system at 17s and at 19s, and the England Under-16s right now are staggering in terms of quality. They’ve got players right the way through the system.

“Our job as Rangers’ management is to get the best players we can get here.

If we’ve got a loan option down south which makes us a better team we have to take it and that is a challenge to our Academy, and that is one I know they’ll rise to.

“We have to produce players, and there is outstanding young talent in Scotland, which we will choose over the southern options.

“That’s the key, we’ve got to do it and it won’t happen overnight, but as a manager we have to go and produce the best team for Rangers Football Club, ideally packed with homegrown talent. But it does take time.

“We have got some really good people in the Academy and Craig Mulholland is leading a top team of people.

“What we have to do is give him time and the Academy time to produce the players, but they know the level of expectation.

“They know the academies to look at with the likes of Spurs down south which produces player after player coming through their ranks, international players for England.

“That’s what we have to do here at Rangers and the quicker we can do that the better.”

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